I was on my knees, in the garden. If she was a person, we would have been forehead to forehead, and I would be whispering my sorry into her skin.
But she was not a person.
She was a plant.
One that was alive before I left for twelve days of holidaying, and dry as a crisp when I arrived home.
I could have cried. I’d planted her and one other, just before Christmas, forgetting that we’d be going away and there’d be no one home to water them. I thought about them often while we were gone, just hoping. They both died. It was too long in such dry hot conditions.
In the moment I sat with her whispering ‘sorry’, I felt her. It was a sacred sorrow in the air, beautiful and sad, slow and soothing, one that only a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to feel.
There are many who would laugh at me for loving, connecting and understanding nature as deeply as I do. To me, everything is alive, and I try to treat all the living beings in my care with as much love as I would a human.
It is my way, to love those who cannot speak for themselves.
What did I actually do for others, apart from give them my love? What did I do to help lift their burdens, to help them maximise their true life potential by easing (or helping to expand) life for them in some small, practical way. There were openings and offerings on occasion, of course, but I never did figure out how practical kindness worked when it was outwards facing and flowing.
The practical part was where I tended to get stuck. I’d have a beautiful, heart-warming idea and then I would find some excuse not to follow through. Partly it was because I was (cough: am) a massive procrastinator. More often than not, though, my practical kindness was thwarted by selfishness.
During the time I was separated from my husband — during the very little money part, during the very little time part, during the depression part — I found myself needing to accept the help of others, really for the very first time in my adult life. And, finally, I learned the importance of being there for others.
I did my Pop’s garden, today—I’m ashamed to say, for the first time (usually I’d leave it to my aunties and uncles). But today, I bought the most beautiful statue I could find at the gardening shop, plonked her in the garden bed by the back door, and pruned until a lovely halo of flowers surrounded her soft-grey concrete. Here I was using my kindness and creativity to practically help my most cherished humans. And I knew it was right.
Usually I’d just sit there on family visits, and we’d have tea, and we’d chatter and laugh, and I’d go home feeling beautifully fulfilled and very much loved. Quite selfishly fulfilled, I would say, looking back, now. Today, though, I gave back. And it truly did feel like I had come home.
My Nan was the gardener of the family. She had the softest, kindest heart, with a great big burst of generosity and passion coursing through her soul, and she loved that garden just as much as she loved her family. Roses were her favourite. And now they are mine, probably because they were hers.
So I’m going to make it my mission (well, one of them) to put all my heart and soul into that garden. For my family. Because I love them so dearly, and because they’ve given and given and given to me, in more ways than I’d ever be able to recall.