The First Harvest Part 1

October 2nd

I walk through your vineyard as a bird is caught in a net and I can’t untangle it. Your hands, I can see your hands, you would’ve been able to untangle it. It wouldn’t hurt your heart.

Tomorrow we harvest without you. The children are looking forward to the harvest while I'm trying to gather my emotions. I know it will be joyful to watch them prepare doing all that’s necessary, all the hard work gathering buckets and clippers and provisions and then driving for hours and working for hours, to follow in your footsteps. And I’m really proud of them, and I know you are too. But doing this without you, it is so hard.

There’s no way to do it without crying.

October 3rd

I’m up at 4:44am- praying I take in the date, 10-03-2020. The numbers speak to my heart. Sometimes days aren’t as easy as 123, sometimes they’re mixed up with emptiness in between.

Friends are joining us to harvest- answered prayers for today, the first harvest without you- Are you watching? Are you praying? Do you know?

I watched the familiar blurred landscape through tears as our son sat in your seat.

Sadly for us the grapes are mostly raisins- this is a strange year. Sometimes fruitfulness in one area means neglect in another.

I remember our conversations over the years of your dream of your own vineyard. To be able to tend and watch over your own fruit is an important part of making wine. It was sweet to dream. Time, energy and attention were required for this dream. So you waited, we waited because your heart belonged to your children, and they were the ones who needed that time, energy and attention. You trusted the time would come for the vineyard, and it did.

The road back was familiar, I traveled it as a child to my grandparents. Rolling Golden hills, I told you more than once as we drove are one of my favorite landscapes, visual comfort food for my soul. I looked out the window as we stopped by my high school at a one way sign.

Puzzling, at the truth of our lives going one way. Memories of traveling with you through the years, the feeling of safety and pleasure that permeate my being as I take in all I see are overwhelming. And I wonder about the one way road, the journey of our lives together. I wonder where I’m going. I wonder- who I am?

When your father and I arrived home everyone was already here, ready to crush the grapes. Again, your children handled all the organization. You were a good teacher, and they were listening and learning. They felt the joy you have always shared at this point in the process, laughing and working and visiting, feeling your smile.

Your fruit was still waiting, whispering from the vines.

Under the evening sun the children and I harvested your first grapes.

Our sweet baby girl, she wept bitterly.

Physical and emotional exhaustion slowed my thoughts, while I felt compassion fill your vineyard and surround our family and our shared sorrow. There was only enough fruit to fill two buckets. It’s all you expected this year, knowing growing a vineyard requires great care and patience. These immature vines need another year or two before we could expect a bountiful harvest.

Your children treated those first grapes like the precious treasure they are. Here’s where tears were shed, and siblings embraced and your father consoled us. Here’s where the deep heartache happened. They were crushed and set aside destined to become a reserved vintage.

Harvesting and crushing- we're all feeling it in the depths of our beings.

Harvesting and Crushing.

As the water heated for the pasta, I kept seeing your sweet face, and hearing your heartbeat and feeling your chest swell.

We served our friends a hearty meal, to say thank you from us, from you.

Sauce that you made with us nourishing all at the table. We toasted to you as we always do, and we did what you loved most today, harvest and family. We did it and we were blessed.

How very grateful we are for what you’ve taught us, that there is joy to be found and mutual respect earned in working hard together, that life should be celebrated at our table, and that love is eternal.

Our son gave me the last hug of the night, he held his mama long, and I listened to his holy heart beat it’s song to my soul, while I remembered hearing the rhythm of your last, longing for the song to never end.

Alone I watched the distant lights sparkle under the night sky, a beautiful scene smoke has hidden for weeks.The faucet and my tears flowing, the last task I finish was to wash your lunchbox.

The first time you touched me, I was washing your lunchbox, standing at your kitchen sink. It was a moment we both laughed about over the years, far from “romantic”, but it was our moment.

A moment of knowing.

Knowing that romance is a life of loving, of planting and harvesting, of “good mornings” and “ good nights”, of meals out and meal in, of richer and poorer, of sickness and health, of vacations and home, of visiting grand castles and moments as sweet and simple and sacred as standing together at our kitchen sink.

Oh how I miss you, our Master Winemaker.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…... Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine,... I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” From the Gospel of John

published October 7, 2020