Life has changed dramatically for me in the past year or so. Obviously, my life was altered more than six years ago when we lost A. I spent a long time in a dark place, mostly by circumstance, but partly by choice. Anyone who has followed my story to any degree knows that I made the decision to meet grief head on in order to escape the messy existence that can happen through avoiding it. Truth be told, grief lingers no matter how much one doesn’t want it to, so why worsen it through retreat?
In the last 16 months or so, however, my life course has altered in a positive way. In many positive ways. S and I purchased a home together, got engaged, I completed my MBA and started a new job I am loving, we got married, and we are now doing a great deal of traveling together. We have deliberately chosen to spend more money on experiences than things, and are slowly making improvements around the house.
About a month or so ago, I started weeding in a small flower bed near our garage. When I didn’t complete the task that day, S decided to help me the following day and pulled out what he considered weeds while I was at work. When I came home and saw what he had done, I was near tears. The problem was that although I hadn’t planted those “weeds”, I liked how they looked in the space. It sparked a discussion about why I would want weeds in my garden.
I argued that the succulents and other wildflowers that were growing weren’t weeds and I had liked the way they looked. He argued that they must have been weeds as those same plants were unwelcome on the lawn. What he couldn’t understand was why it upset me to that degree. I couldn’t explain because I didn’t exactly understand it myself.
I was delighted when a few weeks later, I noticed the plants were growing again in the flower bed, and I took some time to clean it up again. As I pulled out the random bits of St. Augustine grass that had made its way to the little garden, I thought of my Granny. She tended several vegetable gardens that covered acres of land for most of her life. She grew a multitude of vegetables through the years, going out to the garden in the early morning hours to pick tomatoes for breakfast. She would grow and can jar after jar of vegetables to get her through each winter. She referred to me as “her best ‘kraut chopper” because I would sit and shred fresh cabbage for her to make into sauerkraut. I got to take home a jar or two each summer along with homemade pickles, which was my reward for helping.
That day, while futzing in our little flower bed and letting my mind wander, it suddenly occurred to me; it wasn’t that the succulents were weeds just as the grass wasn’t weed. It was simply that neither belonged in the other space. The Purslane, Richardia Brasiliensis and Commelina were not supposed to be in the lawn, while the grass wasn’t supposed to be in the flower bed.
Like nearly all people aren’t inherent good or bad, but fall somewhere in between, the plants in the yard aren’t necessarily good or bad, either. The purslane, for example, is edible, and there are many websites touting their benefits, accompanied by a variety of recipes. The commelina (coincidentally sometimes called “widow’s tears”) is considered an edible herb in some locations, while the Richardia Brasiliensis (which is considered a weed and unwanted in Florida’s citrus groves) is used to treat diabetes in some areas of South America. Although it is unlikely that I will try to cook/eat any of these plants, it does prove my point that they aren’t necessarily “bad”. They simply need the right space in which to be accepted. That may be why I had been so affected by their removal; on some level, it felt like I did when my world was uprooted. I had no choice in the matter.
When my middle child was younger – probably in her early teens, she realized that we hadn’t planned to have her. This upset her until I explained “you were unplanned, but not unwanted.” Perhaps that’s where the trouble lies at times. We have difficulty enjoying or appreciating things if they aren’t planned… or go the way we planned. It’s sometimes hard to go with the flow. But if we struggle against the current, we only frustrate ourselves. If we learn to let go a little, we may discover the joy in the unexpected.
I welcome these “weeds” to my little flower bed, and by extension, S now welcomes them, too. He will often say “whatever makes you happy”. These weeds do just that. The purslane blossoms with small, yellow flowers each morning. The commelina has tiny blue flowers that do the same. Meanwhile, the Richardia Brasiliensis (I apologize. I’m not a fan of any of the more common names this plant is called by, so maybe I’ll just call him Ricky B. Let’s try this again.)… ahem… the Ricky B sports teeny white stars. Each bring a bit of joy and color in my life, and while I didn’t plant them, they are still welcomed. I will smile as I walk by and think “welcome to my bed”.
Copyright Many Faces of Cheri G 2022