I have a love/hate relationship with gardening. I find it to be a very strong extension of the process of learning how to grieve, grieving and living with long term grief. You see, I live in a climate which has four very distinct seasons that are not always equal in length. So each spring I wait for the soil to warm and then I get to see which of my perennials have made it through the winter. Often, some of my favorites don't make it and others are unexpectedly prolific. Plants die for no reason, die because of the season, some are expected to live short lives and others take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason as to what goes on in my garden. So I have to
Just like ten years and two months ago I listened as Wyatt's heart stopped beating and two years and five months ago I knew Eli's time on this earth would be very short. Every fiber of my body wanted to hold on and never let go. Yet I did.
Letting go was not just a matter of relaxing my grip. It was a gradual process of relaxing my heart, relaxing my thoughts and letting the string unravel. I still have that string but I don't need to cling to it to remember it's there.
My garden is my classroom. It teaches me that I am not always the boss of things, even things that I feel are simple and well within my control. No matter how many times I plant or replant, water, fertilize or pray, if that plant doesn't see fit to grow in the soil it won't grow. Finding strawberry plants that I didn't plant in Wyatt's garden is proof that I am not the architect but merely a caregiver to nature's design. My best efforts are just that, efforts to learn, grow and cultivate beauty.
Nature has been particularly cruel in my yard this year. Wyatt's tree was ravaged by disease and was cut down. The willow's absence has been a painfully sunny reminder of our loss this year. Rabbits have ravaged our yard inside out it seems. They have attacked my raised vegetable gardens and seem impervious to any deterrents. But veggies are not enough for these furry fiends. No, they have also stolen the beauty from my garden and kept entire flower species from blooming by chomping down the buds. I can only hope the winter is long and food is sparse.
Yet even though so much is out of my hands and the unpredictability tends to drive me CRAZY, it is a daily comfort. It still needs my help to thrive, even in ways that are unplanned. I still have to work to let go enough to let go sometimes. I've learned that sometimes letting go results in beauty growing in ways that I could never have imagined.