The Gift

Welcome to my blog, Ground One.

Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

The Christmas before my friend Laura died, she gave me back my plant. Actually, she gave me back some shoots from my original plant, which had evolved from another shoot off its parent plant circa 1978. The office assistant at my first job had given it to me when I admired it. The plant had lived through a lot in its various incarnations, including the breadth and depth of Laura’s and my entire friendship.  

It was a hearty plant, flourishing through my early single dating days, my first years of marriage. Then a sudden overseas move found me searching for a new home for it. Of course Laura became its new nurturer. Nowhere did it thrive with more abundance than under her green thumb. That’s what Laura did best—nurture.

Which made it all the more sadly ironic when she was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. We whom she nurtured would have given anything if a little nurturing could have saved her. But of course it couldn’t.

She brought the repotted plant shoots over  with an angel statuette symbolizing happiness and a cloisonee heart ornament—her last Christmas gifts to me. She was still trying to take care of everybody else.

“Take good care of it,” she told me. And then stated what she really was thinking: “It’ll die anyway.”  I dismissed that thought, cancelled it for both of us—then and there. It wasn’t that I didn’t think she wouldn’t die; it was that I knew she would. Today, the next day, ten years later, twenty, thirty—we’d all go, including the plant. I just didn’t want her to go yet.

Fast forward to last Christmas. I found myself in a plant shop begging the owner to save this plant. An exotic variety of prayer plant, it not only linked me to memory, it linked me to Laura’s nurturing abundant soul, which I can still feel around me from time to time. I’d show Laura I could keep something alive. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let it die. Not yet. Not now.

The shop owner was shaking her head and telling me it wasn’t worth saving. She urged me to buy a new one. But she stopped short when I told her with tears in my eyes that it was a very sentimental plant.  She repotted it and gave it lots of water and some food—told me that was all she could do. We’d have to see if it responded.

The plant did respond, somewhat. The spring and summer brought up new shoots. Some just as quickly withered; others stayed the course.  Enough that I thought it was going to survive the odds. A month ago, it began to waver again. It looked so forlorn I thought about letting it go. What to do with a plant that has been with you your entire adult life? A burial? A funeral? 

I watered it. I fed it. I repotted it again. I put it in the shower, as Laura had always done. Yet if for some reason next month, it isn’t alive any longer, I’ve promised myself to let it go. It’s done the job it came to do, for ever so many years. I admired that plant so many seasons ago, not knowing that decades later, it would get me through a season of profound grief and loss. A grief that I have now bridged.

Yet it might just stick around after all, for another season, for some reason I’ve yet to discover. I checked on it just now. It’s still alive.