The Mayday tree in front of my house is a few days from blooming. The blooming Mayday is wholly spectacular. The entire tree flares a conspicuous white overnight and scents the air with a sweetness that draws in bees by the hundreds.
I have a history with that tree. Uyen and I purchased the tree—then only about six feet tall—at a local nursery and brought it home sideways in the backseat of our car. That was something near 24 years ago.
A couple years after we planted the tree, a bitterly cold late spring snowstorm swept down from the Rocky Mountains just after the tree put forth leaves. The tree was still small enough that I managed to build a wire and pipe cage around it so I could cocoon the tree in blankets.
I saved the tree from the cold, but I could not save my Uyen.
The blossoming Mayday is today the brightest reminder of Uyen. Six years ago, one of our last beautiful hours together occurred underneath that tree during full bloom. Uyen, though we did not know it exactly, was only a handful of days from death. She was by then bound to her wheelchair.
Uyen wanted to feel warm again.
I pushed her out into the sunny side of the blooming Mayday tree—into the impossible sweetness of the blossom perfume. Facing the sun, she closed her eyes, smiled. A chorus of honeybees performed their single-note song all around us.
Something old… Something new…
Uyen’s smile shone like a night beacon below the tree. She was as stunning as ever, I swear she was. And for an hour or so I thought the sun might be able to hold her there forever.