All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
I told them I was worried about them moving the Gardenia bush. I stood behind Stephen and Brady on the bright Saturday morning and lamented as they started to dig. The root system was deep and they damaged some of the smaller roots as it was pulled from its resting place below the kitchen window of our house, to be replaced by a small fountain my husband loved. The fountain is a another story for a different day.
We were simply moving it. People move plants all the time. But I just did not have a good feeling about it. I had come to love the gardenia bush. I symbolized my love for the south, with its fragrant blooms and lush green leaves. But move it we did.
That was May of 2007.
In spring of 2008, I stood in our back yard, and I looked at the Gardenia bush in the new location. Stephen and Brady both heard it, the “I told you this was not a good idea” thoughts. Because what was before me was half of a gardenia bush. One side looked like a bunch of sticks ready for the next fire, and the other half looked like a gardenia bush shedding leaves. Instead of lush green leaves with fragrant white blooms all over, it was yellowish and sad, with one lone bloom hanging on a branch. If that bloom could talk, it would say,
“For the love of God woman, what have you done to me?”
Summer of 2009, the balance of the bush had shifted. More dead branches than alive, and one sad bloom on the very bottom of the bush, almost as if it could not muster the energy to create anything very far from the earth which it emerged. I looked at the gardenia bush that summer, weeks after losing Stephen, and it both broke my heart, and confirmed that everything dies. It was a sad summer, and somehow, the gardenia bush was exhibiting a growth pattern that showed how I was feeling in my own life. Just like me, it was barely hanging on.
Summer 2010, couple of leaves, pretty much dead, but I could not let Brady cut it back. it reminded me of happier times, laughter in the back yard. So we left it and ignored it, and pretended that we did not notice the mass of dried sticks next to our other blooms in the back. Perhaps visitors would think it was part of the wood pile for the fire pit.
Summer 2011. Enough already. It’s gone. Chop it. Get rid of it. Brady did, but we decided to leave the stump and roots. We could not say goodbye just yet. But, honestly, the thing was becoming a fire hazard, and an eyesore. Cut back to the ground, we planted flowers in the space for the summer, and figured we would dig up the stump next year. Time to move on. For some reason, it hurt. I had planted and killed so many other things in the yard but I was attached to the Gardenia. Perhaps because it was connected to memories.
Spring 2012. We have our yard all in order. Spring is my favorite time in North Carolina. The warmth is back but the humidity has not hit yet, so it is just blissful to be outside enjoying the sunshine. My husband, son and I worked outside to make everything perfect. In assessing where we needed to plant, we walked to the area where the stump sat in the ground. And, much to our surprise, a small, lush green gardenia bush sits in the spot. It has a way to go, but it is healthy, and it is beautiful. I kind of think Stephen is smiling, telling me “I told you it would be okay.”
I look at the gardenia each morning, and smile at the similarities between my own life and the life of this fragile plant. At one point, I felt like I died too. And, slowly, over the past few years, I have cut away what was hurting me, to allow a new and better self to emerge. I cut out people and ideas that were growing negativity in my own life, and feel this spring, I am starting to see the results of the difficult changes that bring transformation.
My lesson in all of this? Much like my gardenia, in life we need to prune away what is killing us to help ourselves heal. We need to be brave, and realize that it is not the end.
So today, take a moment and dig out the pruning shears for your own life. Anything need to be trimmed?
Have a fantabulous Friday,