By growing flowers, Liz Fiedler works to keep her late husband’s family farm in the family.

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. – When life weighs heavily on your shoulders, there is something in the morning.

“Things that you worry about all day — the day before or so — seem a lot smaller in the morning,” says Liz Fiedler, as she prunes stems in her flower garden as the sun crowns the horizon behind her.

Over the past two years, Liz has experienced both the weight of the loss and the light that makes it bearable.

“Josh was, I always say, he was my wow,” says Liz.

Liz’s husband Josh welcomed her to the farm near St. Joseph where Josh was the fifth generation of his family to grow up milking cows.

“When he was 36 in the summer, we bought it and moved here,” says Liz.

As Josh expanded his career in lending, Liz earned her PhD in Nursing.

Along with their new daughter, Vidalia, the couple envisioned a hobby farm selling flowers and canned goods — a place of their own, which they named Sunny Mary Meadow, after Josh’s late mother.

Two years ago, Liz had ended her first season in her first flower garden when her well thought out plans were dashed.

Liz was at work and her husband was home alone when Josh collapsed while running on a treadmill.

“Sudden cardiac arrest,” says Liz. “We had been married for six and a half years when he died.”

Fit and seemingly in perfect health, Josh had survived an examination the day before his death.

A day after Josh’s funeral, Liz found out she was pregnant with her second child.

Her mother suggested that continuing the flower business might be too much.

“And I remember looking at her and thinking, ‘Don’t take away from me one of the things that still make me happy,’” says Liz.

Let’s just say two summers later good things are growing.

“So this is Davie,” says Liz, introducing the 1-year-old daughter in her arms.

Davie’s 4-year-old sister tucks her head around her mother’s left leg.

“And this is Vidalia,” says Liz.

Count Vidalia and Davie are among the memories of Josh scattered around the farm.

The wind chime next to the barn, with Josh’s name engraved on a metal plaque, dances underneath.

The last salsa Josh canned on a shelf in the store.

And his college flag on a pole in the front yard.

“He loved St. John’s University,” says Liz. “He was the Johnniest of Johnnies.”

But almost two years after Josh’s death, there are also signs that, at 33, Liz is making the old dairy farm her own.

Bright, floral murals adorn the white farm sheds, including a new painting in the works of local artist Lindsay Herdering.

“These murals reflect her personality. It’s colorful and vibrant,” says Lindsay as she paints a Sunny Mary Meadow greeting on a bright yellow background.

The new farmhouse that Liz and Josh began planning together is now under construction.

One cut flower garden has become three.

In the evenings, Liz teaches flower arranging.

She has written a children’s book about grief entitled: “When flowers bloom.”

And throughout the summer, customers come to collect the hundreds of bouquets she puts together in the farm’s old butcher’s shop.

“You have a choice, and moving forward is sort of what I chose,” says Liz.

Back in the garden, Liz offers her daughters basic floriculture classes.

“It’s called snow on the mountain,” says Liz, pointing to some white-tipped leaves.

Surprised by the plant’s name, Vidalia giggles.

“I know, isn’t that silly?” says Liz, cradling Davie in her right arm.

“They’re the sixth generation,” says Liz proudly.

She thinks Josh would be proud too.

“He wanted that for us; I know it is,” says Liz.

One day she wants Vidalia and Davie to have the opportunity to raise their families on the 134-year-old farm.

“Right now, I’m just the keeper of the flame — I want to keep it burning,” says Liz.

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