Tucking the words to the poem “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree” into my pocket, the news of his death changed everything.
I hopped into my car and placed the dogwood branch with blooms in the passenger seat. Plans for reciting a poem in the morning Easter service might not happen any time soon based on the urgency of the phone call.
The petals wilted from the temperature inside the car, the heat well over 90 degrees. The humid air fogged the lenses on my sunglasses, so I removed them.
It was hard to believe my future father-in-law died on Easter morning, a day when Christians remembered the resurrection and churches held celebrations.
Stumbling for the right words, thinking as I drove, my sentences ran together, as I rehearsed what I planned to say to my fiancé.
Minutes later after parking my car, I gripped the steering wheel, turned off the engine and put my head on the wheel.
Overwhelmed with the reality of the situation, I glanced over at the dried up flowers in the seat next to me, and tears swelled up in my eyes. Whispering I cried, “Why God? Why today? Why did he have to die today?”
Through my sobs, hoping for strength, I opened my car door and stood frozen, afraid of going inside.
Then I saw it, across the way. My eyes beheld a beautiful dogwood tree, one with perfectly formed branches, wrapped in blooms from top to bottom.
Suddenly, peace rained down from heaven and into my heart, a reminder of the hope Christ gives freely.
Because life with Jesus never ends – it only blossoms into eternal life for those who accept his gift.
Walking into the lobby of the hospital, carrying a branch from the tree, my fingers retrieved the poem from my pocket.
My Easter presentation appeared postponed, but the Lord’s plans are different than mine, and he never ceases to surprise me, and if I pay attention he will use me, too.
The celebration will gone on as planned, with an audience of one.
Moments later, embracing my future husband, I placed the branch into his lap and recited a few lines from the poem, “The petal marked in brown, the blossom’s center wears a thorny crown. All who see it will remember me.”
He turned to me, and said, "I'm going to miss my dad. At least he's no longer in pain...and he's with Jesus now."
"I know, I know..." I replied, "Besides in heaven blossoms live on forever...as your father will...as your father will..."
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