“We should have come home earlier. I would have loved to see one last snowfall,” Doris, my mother-in-law, said. We sat in her living room in front of the big picture window that looked out on the yard. It was a beautiful, sunny June day, and hummingbirds darted around the feeder outside.
Only a few months had passed since Doris had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She and my father-in-law had been in Florida for the winter. They’d returned to Michigan for her surgery. It didn’t help. Now in their home on Lake Huron, she only had weeks to live.
My husband and I kept Doris company and made her comfortable as best we could. Though she was fading, she insisted on making her way to her recliner next to the living-room window every day. “No TV in bed for me,” she said. “I’m going to see as much life as I can with the time I’ve got left!” I admired her strength of spirit. We sat for hours watching the hummingbirds she adored. But it wasn’t the hummingbirds she really wished to see.
“Lord, I would love some snow,” she sighed. But as cold as our Michigan winters can get, our summers can be hot. That spring had warm, pleasant sunshine and bright, cloudless days. It broke my heart that she’d never see another snowfall.
The hummingbirds flitted away; the scene outside grew still. Beside me, with little to distract her, Doris looked tired. I longed so much to give her everything she wanted in her last days, to ease her journey.
Doris’s eyes widened. Her face lit up. The hummingbirds must be back. I turned toward the sunshine and followed her gaze.
Outside, clusters of little white snowflakes fluttered to the ground. The latest snowfall I’ve seen in Michigan, then or since.