There is a tree on one of the walks that the dog and I do, that is unexpectedly in blossom (see photo above). It is beautiful. Blossoms have an emotional significance for me, and these blossoms reminded me of the cherry blossom in Japan. Jane had taken me to see Japan and we had timed it perfectly and got to see the blossoms from Tokyo right down to Hiroshima. It was an interesting trip, people were so kind and helpful and then there was the person who was so excited to see me that their hand and arm moved uncontrollably and his hand slapped me. I smiled gently at this stranger, who was so excited and then Jane and I carried on with our day.

The chef who made these special ramen in chilli oil, and as we sat in his tiny ramen bar, I struggled to eat a food that I often love and the chef handed me a fizzy drink ‘to help with the chilli’. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness that I ate the ramen and drank the fizzy. I hate fizzy. I got to eat from a bento box on the ‘bullet train’ and like the over excited autistic that I was, I was as happy flappy as could be for the entire train ride.

The amazing food in tiny ryokan, sleeping in traditional Japanese style. Jane asking for as many spare futon mattresses as possible so she could feel more comfortable, whilst ending up looking like the Princess and the pea. This made me laugh so much as I am the Princess and the Pea, not able to sleep if there is one breadcrumb or lump in the bed!

Blossoms can be brief or long lived, they come and then they drop off the tree with the wind or rain, or they die and fall off. Lives are brief or long, people come into your life and then they are gone. But like blossoms, people can bring moments of joy and beauty both when they are there and when they are gone. The memory of the form behind the joy and beauty is almost as tangible as the experience.

I am finding moments of focus and drive, reconnecting with friends and interests in brief moments like short lived blossoms. Work got us all to do an online art class and I enjoyed painting again. Now I am one step closer to using the canvases Jane bought me earlier in the year, reminding me gently that I should keep doing the things that bring me peace, and not just focusing on doing things. Chico nudges me to walk him when he is bored and I find scraps of paper with thoughts Jane had scrawled down randomly, briefly blossoming into a writer before drifting back to her passion for health.

The way my autistic brain processes life and as it turns out death, is both helpful and difficult. What I discovered this week, is that this is the same for everyone, everyone finds some things hard and other things easy. The guy who borrowed a coffee cart to try and make a living during covid, was asking me about how he could support his friend, whose wife just unexpectedly died, because he knows my wife died. He wanted to help, but didn’t know how. I made myself late for a work meeting, because it felt important to have a real conversation with him, to hear his pain for his friend, and share some things that had helped me. And in that moment, I understood that grief and loss can be like blossom, when it appears, it takes up your attention, and holds it with a delicate fragility that gets buffeted by the winds of memory and the rains of sorrow.

So many people are being buffeted by memories, both joyous and difficult, and the rains of sorrow, grief and loss or the anticipation of these. Be kind and gentle to those you interact with, bring them some moments of peace or calm or genuine helpful human connection.