Here we are, almost two years ago, just after learning I was pregnant again. Happy, thankful people.
A short time later we traveled to SoCal to spend some time with my dear uncle, who was in the process of wrapping up his mortal sojourn.
One day Rob and I went to the beach with my cousin. We went out onto the big pier and watched people fish and throw mackerel to the seals. (It isn't called Seal Beach for nothing.)
Later we poked around in a few shops downtown. My cousin bought a gigantic fake diamond for his wife, a piece of cut glass large enough to fill up my hand.
There was nothing for sale that enticed me (except when we stopped in an Italian deli which nearly overpowered my will with its wall of olives) until we came upon a beautiful little open air garden shop. So many gorgeous growing things. I think Rob and my cousin Brett grew an inch of beard standing around, waiting for me to look at every last flower and succulent in the place. Twice. When I left, I had in tow a panda plant,
a few rescued pearls from a string of beads plant,
and a plant which is the one I want to tell you about. It's known as a mother plant.
This is the one I loved the best. Is it any wonder that I wanted to buy a mother plant to celebrate our big (but still secret at that point) joy? This plant is the succulent equivalent of a possom, carrying its "babies" till they're mature enough to drop to the ground and make it on their own. See the spiky edges of each leaf? Comfy lodging for a baby on each of those points. This kind of plant is so pretty to see when it's fruitfully full of its tiny riders.
So, when our stay in Seal Beach reached an end, I carefully packed up my mother plant and the others and brought them all safely home to Utah.
I expected to share some real maternal solidarity with the mother plant in the months ahead, but it wasn't meant to be. In the early summer I miscarried the baby I'd been so sure about. It was devastating. And the mother plant suffered. I never out and out tried to kill the plant, but I neglected it like I'd never neglected any other in my life. It remained in its tiny starter pot, with only the merest plug of soil to protect and sustain it. It dried out. Its babies died and it dropped most of its leaves. It stretched desperately toward light, toward any kind of nurturing, and grew spindly. It became deformed, almost two feet of thin green crisis. I might have watered it a few times (or Rob might have) in the beginning, a nickel's worth of a drink, only enough to be insulting. Then the soil really dried out, hard. The mother plant fell over and got pushed behind a junk pile. I never really forgot it; I began to ignore it. The sight of it depressed me but I couldn't persuade myself to throw it away... or take care of it either.
This non-story goes on and on. Months, many months passed. During those months Rob and I began working through the long process of preparing for an adoption through an agency, LDS Family Services. You'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd have made my peace with the mother plant then? Nope. Despite my own renewed pursuit of motherhood (possomhood?), the mother plant suffered on.
Now Rob and I are facing a deadline that's less than two months away; we must complete our preparations so that once and for all we can qualify to become viable candidates for adoption. Do you know what people mean when they say they've been on an emotional roller coaster ride? I do. I'd like to say I've done nothing but push on diligently toward our goal for ten months, but I admit I stalled out here and there, scared and unsure, about irrational stuff. Or maybe rational stuff, depending upon how you look at it, but still irrelevant if you factor in faith. Yeah, what about miracles?
For instance, here's one: that crazy mother plant lives on. It's not a zombie, not undead; it's alive! It's been devastated, but it hangs on. It doesn't even seem to hate me. If my life was a Hitchcock film, or maybe a Kubrick, the mother plant would have strangled me in the night long ago, wrapped its horrible glow-in-the-dark tough skinniness around my neck and choked. But this show's got a finer director, so rather than whomping me with Mother Nature's curse, this little mother plant has shown me that survival is what we're made for.
So March Forth, my very own holiday, came. A lot of good things happened that day, which I mentioned in my last post. The event that seemed the most celebratory and symbolic was finally caring for my mama possum plant. It felt like time, time to march forth in mothering and peacemaking. I found in our storage shed a pretty pot, never before used, and a new bag of potting mix. I put a magical rock from the day's hike in the bottom to cover the drainage hole. I kissed and clipped that mother plant. I cut her down again, and again, with my sharpest knife and steadiest hand, till there seemed to be almost nothing left of her. Then I carefully planted and watered her, and decorated her new home with more magical rocks and remnants of a beautiful old wall in Salt Lake, and set her on my favorite old plate to catch the extra water.
This is a lot of talk about a plant, isn't it?
The mother plant was curled and bent when I planted it two days ago. Today it's standing straight (already!) and that's an encouraging sight. I'm doting: Need a mist, love? Here you go! Such a forgiving thing, this plant. How did it go on so long in the face of my grudge and manage to survive on air? How?
I have a habit of looking for symbols everywhere. Maybe I'm projecting too much onto this plant. Whatever happens with my own mothering, I'm through with killing-by-degrees this eager green life. I'm hoping it will soon feel well enough to possum up and make a few happy vigorous babies. If anybody wants a succulent start, I can certainly vouch for the strength of the stock.