by Erin Darst Hein
I absolutely delight in watching my children rediscover Spring each year. Right now the bluebonnets and poppies are bursting into bloom in our backyard and my kids are entranced –particularly because the bluebonnets are reemerging from last year, just like magic. Every day we go out to water and to check on the garden, and the first morning that color started to emerge, they were running around and hooting like it was Christmas morning. It’s been almost a week and still the two year old wants to run out first thing every single morning, still in pajamas, to count his “BlueBonnies”. “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, FIVE, FIVE and FIVE!”
For me, this is it. This is what it is all about. The smell of the fresh garden. The impossibly delicate plants starting their journey again. The breeze. The birds singing. That very busy chubby bumble bee in the bush by the window. Filthy children noticing and exploring Spring. The two year old dragging a bucket of water across the yard, sloshing it all the way, and then peering in bewildered that it is empty. The treasures of last year emerge in new ways and the surprises of the new year are just taking root.
I think we can learn so much, heal so much, in a garden. It wasn’t an accident that we built a garden as the centerpiece of Darst Funeral Home. We just built a place that we love and that we genuinely find peace in, and we invited you to share it with us. My dad does not book two services here at once. If you’re here, this is your campus. He often changes the paintings out for framed family portraits. He invites you to bring in cherished mementos. He wants the kids to feel comfortable enough to run and laugh and fill his fountains with rocks. The porch and swings are yours. The gazebo is yours. The outdoor kitchen and all of the garden seating is yours. Bring in food and music and laughter that belong to your family.
In 2017, between our funeral home and our crematory, almost 2,000 families trusted us to take care of their lost loved one. We walked with families through this impossibly difficult journey. We cried with them, and laughed with them, and poured our love into their services. Now, it’s springtime here at Darst Funeral Home. Our garden is bursting into life and we’re all feeling a rush of energy. As we grow and change we never want to lose sight of the original question. How can we make this better? Gentler? More dignified? More personalized?
We’ve almost finished our open-air garden chapel and we are all looking forward to getting the floor to ceiling glass for when the weather is too hot or cold to use it open. We upgraded our on-site crematory with better equipment and more ways to serve our families who choose cremations. We’ve begun work on another building that will more than triple our current space and give us some much needed breathing room. We are expanding our staff and re-thinking our processes. Can we make parking smoother? Can we make catering easier? How can we make sure you feel heard and supported every step of the way?
It’s going to be another whirlwind year, but we are ready for whatever 2018 throws at us. But for now, for right this moment, it’s just me and the breeze and the laughter of my dirt-powdered-donut children. Just the incredible peace of sitting in the garden, being reminded that we can face winter in our lives and yet we will persist. That life and love always find a way.
Erin Hein is the daughter of John and Anne Darst of Darst Funeral Home. She lives in Kingwood with her husband Evan and their 3 children Jack (7), Caroline (4), and Ian (2).