Monday, July 7, 2008
When I was a little kid -- pre-school, maybe a bit older -- I threw a tantrum for the ages in the hardware store. I wailed, flailed my arms and sat in the middle of an aisle screaming for more than 10 minutes. At last, my flustered mother acquiesced and bought the object of my desire: A rose bush.
I'm still not sure why I wanted such a thing, but buying it shut me up, and it was soon planted. Last I checked, it was still blooming, mostly forgotten by the side of the house but faithfully sprouting reminders of my career as a brat.
It is my last and greatest triumph as a gardener. Hanging plants die in two days. I've killed cacti.
But when Will died, I remembered my childhood rose and planted another bush. In a garden of neglect, it was pampered: sprayed with weed killer, fed with top-shelf spikes and pruned regularly. It flourished the first two summers after his death, giving forth one perfect red beauty after another to match his hair and his spirit.
Inevitably, my gardening skills intervened. It grew so wild and so hearty, I worried it would take over a fence. I trimmed it down. Too much. Last summer, amid the stress of Mo's pregnancy, it looked sad and nearly dead. I felt terrible. And then I rationalized: Perhaps, with another child on the way, the bush had done its job.
Two days before Hope was born, it bloomed again. It was gorgeous, as though Will was blowing his sister a kiss.
I thought that may have been its parting, poignant shot, but bundled up the bush to protect it from the winter a few weeks later. This spring, as the rest of our garden stubbornly sprang to life, Will's rose bush gave off all appearances of a moribund stump.
I went through the motions, fertilizing and feeding but believing we'd seen Will's last rose.
It bloomed again two days before the cousins he never got to meet came to visit his sister for the first time.
The timing is touching. We've always known Will is looking down on us, sending us small reminders that, no matter how difficult the path, there is always beauty. Sometimes, we don't do as good a job listening as we should.