“I see the blossom’s coming out,” said Jon looking out of the window.
A fleeting memory caused Rose to panic.
“The children!” she blurted out.
“They’re fine. It was only you who got ill. Missing you of course, as they haven’t been allowed to visit with the restrictions, but don’t you remember, they spoke to you at the weekend on the hospital’s tablet? The schools have re-opened for all year groups recently, and Gabby moved up to the new school. She can’t wait to show it to you.”
The memory came again, this time clearer. A carpet of pink; where was it? It was on a walk. The children were standing posing for a photo under the huge cherry tree in the next road. The ground was covered with the fallen petals. Little Rex, at 4, was quick to start scooping them up, and throwing them into the air. Gabby, with pre-teen reserve, held back, and then she couldn’t help herself and joined in the fun. They made fountains of pink in the air, and the blossoms fell like rain.
“But…” She hesitated as she tried to think it through. “How can the cherry blossom be coming back again?”
“Don’t you see? You’ve missed so much: the May blossom, the delphiniums in the garden, the colours of autumn leaves, the snowdrops in the frost. Next time round you will enjoy them all the more. There is so much to look forward to.”
Rose found it hard to understand where all those seasons had gone. Her brain was still trying to cope with the truth of what had happened, never mind for how long.
“That’s why they have allowed me in today; to take you home,” said Jon. “The nurses and porters are all lined up outside the ward to clap you out, since you’ve been in here longer than any of their other patients.”
“By the time the cherry tree sheds its blossom,” he added, “ you’ll be strong enough to walk along and see it, a carpet of pink snow laid out for a very special person.”