i.

In winter when my father died
the snow lay white on cold ground.
We had been expecting it.
He was ready to go.

As he lay dying,
I sat beside him to ease his passing.
His head turned away from me.
He did not want me to hold his hand.

Undaunted,
I spoke to him of spring.
Of walking in the woods
among budding birch and beech.
Their fallen leaves rustled under his feet as he walked.
For a moment,
his breathing calmed
and he was careful not to disturb the delicate green stems of wild leeks
as they stretched their slender fingers toward the sun.

I felt a daughter’s pride
that I had comforted him.
And perhaps I did,
but thoughts of spring
were not what he wanted
on that bitter winter day.

“You’re not letting me go!”
he cried.

I held my own breath for a moment,
silent and hurt once again.
Those were the last words he spoke to me.

ii.

After he was gone
I floated in a place of
love and relief,
waiting for grief.

iii.

My friend’s father died that winter too.
And it comforted us both to know
that while the snow
slowly melted,
there was another who
sorted the complicated
love between
fathers and daughters.

iv.

When spring came
she offered to blend
an herbal tea
to soothe our sadness.

10 grams of hawthorn
to heal our hearts,
10 grams of lemon balm
to sleep more soundly,
5 grams of rose petals
to remember,
and 5 grams of damiana
to honour how our tiny hands
had once curled around
our fathers’ fingers while we walked together in the woods.