It happens too fast. It happens before I am even ready to begin to get ready. It happens in the blink of an eye.
I wait all winter, through the dark days and early dusks. Every cold, icy morning as I leave the house, I look with longing at the barren branches of the lilacs. When the dawn is barely breaking on cold February mornings, I peer so closely at the tips of the silvery branches, sure that I can see the infinitesimal swellings of the buds.
As the weeks slowly pass by, and the sun begins to linger more lovingly in the evening sky, I start to really yearn for those lilac blooms. I imagine the heady purple scent, the warm breezes, the grass below the feet of the healthy plants. It seems to me that the sight of those beautiful blossoms will bring me back to life after my long winter hibernation.
And spring inevitably arrives, with the pebbly snow mounds melting away, the robins arriving, the daffodils emerging from the frozen ground. I watch it all, but I wait for the lilac blossoms.
The sun gets warmer, the kids put on shorts and come to school with their summer buzz cuts. The peonies push up, the irises arise, the daisies spread out. We mow the grass and breathe in the perfumed air. We clean the grill and wash the windows and put the snow shovels into the shed.
And still, I wait for the delicate, glorious clusters of lilac blooms to open and bow and send out that crazy, too sweet smell.
Each day for at least two weeks, I watch each tiny bud on each lilac cluster, waiting for the first little gem to open its eyes and start to sing.
At last, at last; the lilac blooms. The air is almost too intense; the sweet purple scent mixes with the hundreds of lily-of-the-valley that cluster along our walk. The sun comes out and warms the grass, the woods, the flowers themselves.
The lilac have bloomed, and spring is really here. I sigh in delight.
And then, in what seems like only hours, but what is really days, the blossoms fade and turn brown and fall to the ground. They have been and gone.
How did I miss them?
And so the metaphor is clear, obvious to even the most obtuse.
So often in life, we wait and wait and hope for something that isn’t here. We yearn for something just a little bit sweeter than what we have before us. We convince ourselves that this one little pleasure will make everything just right.
And then it comes to us, and bursts into being. But before we can catch it or name it or breath it in the way we were always sure we would, it has passed us by, and we are back in yearning mode again.
Like childhood, like new love, like a vacation on the beach, the lilacs come and go before we are even ready to get ready to capture them.