I don’t suppose many of you can look at a plant you have growing in your home and name the exact date that it became part of your life.
Strangely enough, I can. December 11, 2014.
Walking into the funeral home that evening of mom’s visitation, my attention was immediately drawn to the beautiful plants and flowers surrounding the casket, every single one them a wonderful tribute to the people she had touched.
The cards on the plants told of relatives from across the country I hadn’t talked to in years. Some were from her pre-retirement co-workers whose names immediately brought to mind stories she told of her life at the hospital. Yet others were names I didn’t recognize but now are burned into my memory.
That was nearly 2 years ago.
Some of the arrangements were shared with loved ones. Some were donated.
Today there remains in my possession one last plant. The memory plant.
The memory plant has seen better days. The green is less illustrious and the branches are a little worn.
But it’s still standing.
It’s located in the parlor and is the first thing I see when I walk into the house from the garage.
My memory plant has been tugging at my thoughts lately.
Some days I faithfully water it, prune it, and take care of it as though it just arrived brand new.
Other days I don’t give it a second look. Eventually it’s pouting leaves and crisp texture catch my attention and I immediately give it the attention it needs to survive.
Some days I think of my mom faithfully. I cherish the memories, doing everything in my power to keep them alive and help them survive. I want to make them a part of my everyday life.
Then there are times when I am neglectful, either because I let life get in the way or because it’s too painful to remember that she’s not here.
Sometimes I am guilty of doing whatever I can to NOT think of the good times. I have an extra glass of wine or an extra piece of cake as a distraction. I beat myself up for not being stronger, which inevitably makes the self-esteem go a little lower and the depression a bit more pronounced.
I go days and weeks thinking I’ve gotten over the worst of it, then I come across something with her handwriting, and the grief returns.
The memory plant is a connection between my old life and my new life.
I’m learning how important it is to cultivate the memories rather than let them turn to weeds. I’m learning to consider the pain like a battle scar, something to be proud of.
If you have lost someone close to you and have put up a wall to protect yourself from the hurt, maybe you are neglecting your own “memory plant”. I understand. I share your pain.
But don’t be discouraged. God comforts us in our times of grief.
So let us celebrate the struggle.