Medicine for Regret (cherry blossoms and red-winged black birds)

whatever you’re missing, there will always be a reunion

you miss something because it is yours, and you will be reunited

one morning in May 2015, I wake up and Spirit tells me to go to High Park. Go visit the cherry blossoms.

Almost 9 years in this city and I had never witnessed the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring. I had only been to High Park one or two times.

I hop on the subway and exit at High Park Station. I have no idea where I’m going or how to find the cherry blossoms in this huge park.

“Let’s just follow the edge and we’ll find them,” I catch an ear-full of a couple’s conversation behind me. I listen.

Sure enough I find an open field with cherry blossom trees scattered along the edges, beautiful pink petals opening their hearts toward the sun.

I find a spot to sit and take a moment to breathe in their energy. I remember what a brilliant teacher says:

“Listen to the earth and she will talk to you. Drawing plant life is one way to connect to their wisdom and medicine.”

I take out my notebook and start sketching. And I listen.

Cherry blossoms say life is open-hearted, playful, romantic and starry-eyed (they literally have stars in their eyes). They say that in life and after-life, there is always a reunion. There is always a time to return to innocence and hope; a time to bloom like nothing was ever burned. Whatever ebb and flow of the seasons, whatever trials and tribulations your heart is wrung through – we have this place to return to.

“Is this all there is?” someone asks me while walking by, referring to the cherry blossom trees.

“I have no idea,” I replied. This wasn’t what I was expecting. But it is beautiful. It is enough.

Spirit tells me to keep moving. I walk down the hill and follow a trail along the edge of woods and shrubs. I curve around the bend.

A gust of breath rushes through my body as I find where I have ended up. This is what I have been looking for!

An abundance of cherry blossom trees in this spot. Like a tarp, the colour pink stretches across the sky, covering multiple generations of family and community who have come to gather and laugh, play games, rest, have all-of-the catch up chats about all-of-the-things. There is excitement, playfulness and peace.

I have never visited the cherry blossoms before, but this place is so familiar. This exact picture, I know it.

Spirit says, this is what happens after life. This is where we go. We return.

I let Spirit lead me to a resting spot. I walk down across the grass and sit at the edge of the sparkling water. I see the ducks and geese and rich houses across the pond.

Then it hits me: I have sat in this exact spot before. Eight months ago, visiting High Park for the first time with you – we sat here. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, overwhelmed and unable to contain my exhaustion and hopelessness. You sat beside me, comforting me, witnessing me, but scared that you weren’t doing or being enough.

Inside this memory, at this spot, I am flooded with regret.

I could have loved you so much better in that moment. If only I could go back and love you as hard as I miss you now.

The weeping willow beside me droops, sharing in my sadness.

A red-winged black bird lands a few feet in front of me, watching me. Sings a song to me. Launches into the air, and perches on a nearby willow branch sticking out of the water. Stays for a few moments, circles around me and lands back in front of me. Does this three times. Each time the red-winged black bird speaks to me, I listen.

Everyone is here! Everyone is here! My friends are here! My family is here! This is so great and all is well.”

Three times. I listen.

I visit my memory again. I ask Spirit: what else happened in that moment? If there is more to the story, what is it?

In that moment, like in every moment, we were as much ourselves as we could be. We sat with each other exactly as we were. And that is love. That is enough.

After some time passes Spirit tells me to move once more. I find a tree to sit underneath while a branch full of opened blossoms hangs above my head. I press my back against the bark, needing to be held. Waves of emotion ripple through my body.

I just don’t understand. I’m so confused. What happened. I just don’t understand.

Cherry blossom medicine for confusion, despair, and regret.

I ask them. They answer me.

You don’t have to understand.

They echo my dear friend Ravyn’s voice: some things you don’t have to understand…because you would never make that choice.

It wasn’t a choice you would have ever made. It wasn’t a path you would have ever taken. You don’t have to understand. You don’t have to figure it out. It’s okay to be confused. Something else is waiting for you, moving toward you, that you will understand.

When you are reunited, you will know it.

And it will just be so good.


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