April 30th, 2011
Exactly two years ago, I was preparing to marry the love of my life. To add a special touch to our reception, I bought a purple daylily plant just so that we could use the flowers for the wedding arrangements. I was a little miffed to see that it finished blooming right before the big day, so I instead turned to the garden that I had planted for my mother. I used elephant ears and calla lilies from her garden; and orchids and mistletoe cacti from my balcony. Rather absentmindedly, (I was after all, distracted) I planted the daylily in the ground near my apartment, where it struggled to get its footing in the parking lot’s hot and sandy soil.
After the wedding I gave the arrangements to my mother, who saved the mistletoe cactus cuttings and kept them in a vase of water for almost an entire year. Actually it was a soap dispenser rather than a proper vase, but they continued to grow, flower and fruit on nothing more than water anyways, even when the vase ran dry.
That vase of mistletoe cactus watched her teach piano lessons from her power-chair, and it witnessed her laughing and smiling with family and loved ones. It also glowed in the flashing lights of fire trucks and ambulances as she passed by on a stretcher. Months went by, and the house was abandoned. I had started moving each of the plants from her garden one by one so that I could plant them on the property of our apartment complex.
|My mother's garden, right after being planted at the apartment complex|
Exactly one year ago, I woke up to learn that my mother had died. Speechless, heartbroken - and somehow still relieved to know she was no longer suffering, I walked out to the apartment garden to see that the very same daylily from one year ago had started blooming. It was as if my mother herself was telling me that she was in good hands, or as if God was reminding me of the beautiful world that she loved so much.
By that point, all but one of the mistletoe cactus stems had died. I was needless to say, a bit to distracted to fill up the vase, so I was left with one stem that was starting to bloom yet again. I had to use the stem for something, so I wrapped it and a few other mistletoe cacti in spaghnum moss and attached them to a piece of driftwood. I used it for a blog post, and abandoned it yet again.
|The mistletoe cactus, reincarnated yet again.|
April 30th, 2013
A few days ago, we woke up to remember that it had been one year since my mother had died. Because I was understandably feeling a bit sad and needed some motivation to get started writing for the day, I walked out to the apartment complex’s garden. Though it was mostly made up of the things I planted at my mother’s garden, it was fuller and more colorful than anything she would have seen at her own house. I smelled the same confederate jasmines and crinums that were blooming during my wedding and when my mother passed, and a flood of memories and happiness came over me.
And there it was. That same purple daylily had opened up its first bloom as if by clockwork – as if it was a heartfelt message from up above, urging me to celebrate the day as earnestly as my mother had.
May 2nd, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I had learned that the mistletoe cactus and driftwood arrangement had made its way into Indoor Plant Décor, the book that had just been released by my friends Jenny Peterson and Kylee Baumle. That very same cutting that was present for the happiest day of my life - and was there for one of the happiest years of my mother’s life - had made it into a book and will be in my own book a year from today.
Right now it’s swaying and waving to me in the wind and rain on my balcony, reminding me of how nature has a way of keeping track of our most intimate thoughts through each passing year.
I woke up to a forecast of heavy downpours all day, and just couldn’t shake the sadness and anxiety, so I stepped outside into the grayness and started jogging. I smelled the crinums and the jasmines, and saw the same sights that I had seen before my wedding and after my mom died. Drenched in the cool and refreshing rain, I felt free. I felt alive and full of joy, and I felt that much like the daylily and the mistletoe cactus, I had a very important role to fill in this life.
I thought about my wife and a happy family, and I envisioned many anniversaries and many celebrations with nature serving as a sacred timepiece counting down not only the days and seconds, but the memories and triumphs that give us a sense of connection and belonging in this world.
And suddenly something felt very familiar. I had done this last year too, at around the same time. I remember running in the rain on a vacant beach and feeling my salty tears blend with the sweat, rain and sea spray while my sobbing became lost in the relentlessly crashing waves. I remember getting into my car and soaking the seats, grinning from ear to ear and feeling at peace. Was I no different than the daylily, following my own innate rhythms and rituals?
As I'm writing this, I'm just now remembering a part of the bible that was very important to my mother, and given the context, it’s important for me to share.
Matthew 6:27-30 "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much clothe you, O you of little faith?"