Tag Archives: nurture

Live Without Her

3 Aug

loveI used to write about heartbreak before I knew what it was. Now I have the prize of champion heart-wrench.

My mother left this earth on June 3, 2014, and until the very last moment, I saw in her blue eyes the most absolute, pure love. I’d questioned the authenticity of that love throughout her long illness, my simple, confused corporeal form firing flight signals in response to pain. My neurons found error in the connection between immense suffering from grief and the person who loved me most in the world.

In the end, love, that biological and spiritual combination of attachment, was unquestionably my mother’s life purpose. She always said she’d only ever really wanted to have children, and my brother and I were her greatest achievement, but I cast doubt from behind the guise of my own ambitions. No one lives for children, I scoffed. But I will tell you now with absolute certainty that mothers and fathers operate on a different frequency of need and provision. They live for you. They lived for you. And now I live in honor of her love.

Unable to speak on the last day, she held me in a gasping gaze of perfect human and soul dependence on surviving for me. I expressed my profound gratitude for every moment she gave me. “All the best parts of me came from you. I’ll use those parts every day and think of you, you’re a permanent part of me. I love you so much and I feel how much you love me. We are going to miss you. But you can rest now if you need to, we’re ready to be strong and know you loved us.”

We had to let each other go. I left the room, and so did she.

No one tells you about the immediate disconnect you feel when a parent leaves the earth. You actually become untethered, and are floating, adrift in a life structure built before your loss. The sensation is a mix of fragility and clarity. Untended by the one, single soul who watched out for you since the moment you came into existence, you suddenly realize with perfect sensitivity the ways in which to nurture yourself through every moment. A transfer of care occurs, and you feel that you owe it to the best human you ever knew to make the most of the life you were given.

Summer really did break and awake me this year. I’ve been lost, I’ve been hopeless, I have found love, I finally got over the animal need to boost serotonin through starch consumption (well, kind of)… and now, just this morning, I feel like I emerged from a cocoon. Grief still holds me, and I will always, always cherish the moments of wrenching sadness that clutch my heart and remind me of my mom’s placid and perfect dedication. But maybe I can take some new steps now. I will not let her disappear.

Something I want to tell you, that I don’t think we say enough when we talk about the death of a parent, is that when they cease to exist physically, you suddenly feel a new sense of very strong support from within yourself. A true yogi in every sense, I feel as though my mother is lifting my heart, boosting it up in my chest. She did it from the first second in which I came to be, and now with all the interference of this messy human life gone, I can feel a new, steadfast strength that she instills in me. I will not let her down. I will love and give endlessly as she did, and I will work to find the support and fulfillment that she wanted for me.

I love you, Mom. Thank you.

Nature or Nurture

16 Jun

nurtureWhen I reveal in casual conversation that I do not have children, the automatic rebound is “Do you have pets?” As if pets are a good substitute, and would prove that at least I am capable of loving some other living being.

“I’m out of town too much,” I falter.

Or if I have been asked the question too many times and I’m sick of justifying the loveless desert of my existence, I sardonically counter, “I only have one plant, and I’m almost always killing it.”

Which is a bit of an exaggeration, because for more than a decade, I’ve tended lovingly to my single plant in various living scenarios. Even my gardener friends have congratulated me on how green things thrive under my care.

But my current domesticated plant, this poor foxtail fern (which isn’t a fern at all, one gardener friend said), really has felt the brunt of my neglect since I placed him on an outdoor table last September. I fly away for eleven days and come back to see him gasping for water, trembling in the undulating waves of Texas heat, and shrugging resentfully as I roll my giant luggage past him.

Fortunately, every description of this particular plant genus lists it as a resilient little guy, or more specifically, “a seemingly delicate cultivar that is tough enough to save.” So he survives.

This was my narrative until last week’s six-day trip, where my claim of “I’m almost always killing it” was met with “What, and then you bring him back to life, like a power thing?”

At first I was irked. A power thing? No! I am not a sick bastard who likes to push things to the brink of extinction and then… good gawd. That is exactly what I am doing. I choke the plant, sometimes even when I am home, letting him wither on the patio for weeks at a time. He’ll wave wistfully from the table when I come back from the gym, but I hurry past with my armloads of tote bags and coffee cups, forgetting his presence after I close the door behind me.

Naturally, once I discovered that I am now a plant torturer, I had to examine the cause for such malfeasance. Force of habit sent my line of inquiry past some romantic questions. Do I starve potential manfriends and then resuscitate them? No, quite the opposite. I lavish them with attention until they drown and die of root rot.

So what equivalent scenario am I playing out repeatedly on my patio… what else do I allow to languish for weeks on end, only very rarely acknowledging its needs and then suddenly restoring life by providing liquid sustenance for its cute little seed-like leaves?

Myself.

Ohhhhhhhh. Oh poor leafy self. Poor fragile fronds. You quiver there in the hot, humid air, and you wait to be seen. In your cute little ceramic pot, roots tangled like shod feet that don’t know where or how to stand in order to appear ladylike but not too prim, you look hopeful.

Promise to foxtail fern: I will nurture thee. And maybe in so doing, I will bring myself back to life.

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