Sometime after we bought our house four years ago – I can’t remember if it was in the fall or spring – I went to a friend’s house to get some hostas and lilies. She had an abundance of plants. So much so that after I dug out what I wanted, you couldn’t tell a difference in her flower beds!
We have several flower beds along our driveway that were empty when we moved in, so I filled them up! I probably should have started cleaning them out last fall but didn’t get around to it. Clearly the plants were happy in their new home because they kept multiplying and getting bigger every year. In fact, the flowering stems of the hostas were so large that they leaned into the driveway getting in the way of us driving through.
We’ve got a busy next several weekends, so I figured I’d take advantage of a free morning to clean out the beds. I had no idea what I was in for. First of all, why is it hot and humid in October? I forgot to put a hat on and by the time I realized how humid it was I was already covered in dirt and didn’t want to step inside. The sweat would.not.stop. Second, splitting plants is hard work, especially when the beds are full of that stupid weed paper. Seriously, the previous owners had some serious aversion to weeds.
But, it was more than that. These plants have been growing and multiplying in the these small beds for four years now. Their roots were entrenched in the dirt and entangled with one another. I couldn’t dig up one plant at a time – it was like I was digging up family groups or something. One of the “families” was so large that it filled a whole trash bag by itself!
I know plants don’t have feelings – not like we do anyway. But I do know that plants go into “shock” when they are being transplanted. I mean, can you imagine being perfectly happy in your own little part of the world and then being dramatically ripped out of the earth with no warning or preparation? It would be startling to say the least!
It was really hard work digging them up. It was hard pulling their roots from the dirt and the weed paper and other “families.” It was hard separating the “families” into smaller ones. I eventually had to get a hack saw (thanks for the tip Dad!) to cut the root balls apart. I tilled the soil, pulled out rocks and leftover roots and did my best to get rid of the weed paper. And then, I replanted. I probably put 1/8 of the plants back in the flower beds. A co-worker who just bought a new house came and took the rest. I’m not sure he realized how much it was!
As I was digging and pulling and sweating and getting covered in dirt, I thought about how hard it is to let go. To let go of the comfortable space. To let go of their roots and possibly your own. To let go of what you know. I feel like I’m in a continual space of letting go.
A couple weeks ago my team at work hosted a baby shower for one of our teammates and his wife. I worked from home that day. I’m not ready for baby showers. I’m still in the process of letting go of that dream. And yet, in my own way I was able to be present. I made them a quilt, which I love to do. But as I make baby quilts, I think about all the baby quilts I thought I’d make for our babies. I think about how I’d have to restrain myself from making too many quilts. And now, the only baby quilts I make are for friends and family. I’m still letting go and it’s hard work.
Last night I watched as my sister-in-law hold her cousin’s baby. I watched that baby grab onto my husband’s finger. I watched my father-in-law play with that baby. And, I let go. Again. I can tell you, this is hard work.
At some point – and I’m not sure when that is exactly – everyone else moves on. They’ve all moved forward, several steps ahead. I’m further along than I was two years ago, that’s for sure. But I’m not as far along as they are.
Next week there will be a combined baby and wedding shower at work for two more co-workers. I really want to go to the wedding shower, but I can’t because I’m still not ready for baby showers. When will it not hurt? When will I let go completely?
Like the plants in my flower bed, I didn’t have a choice when the doctor called and told me the news after the first round of blood work. Or the next round or the next. Like the shovel that was kicked into the soil, I didn’t have any warning signs or time for preparation. Like the hack saw that cut the roots apart, I felt my life being torn apart. Like being tossed onto the driveway, I wonder when the pain will end forever.
My co-worker was grateful for the bags and box full of plants to be transplanted at his new house. I think the plants I kept are grateful for the aerated dirt and plenty of space to grow. I know I’m grateful for the fresh look of the flower beds – less crowded, more spacious. Good things can come from letting go, even when it’s hard work.
Each time I’ve walked outside with the dogs (the flower beds are right outside the door that we take the dogs out of), I feel lighter because of all the empty space in the beds. I am reminded that sometimes the empty spaces are necessary to create beauty. I am reminded that I don’t need to fill every nook and cranny to create beauty – that openness is beautiful too.
Re-working these flower beds was hard, challenging, sweaty work. Re-working my life s the same. Sometimes I have to pause and come up with a different solution. Sometimes I have to come at it from a different angle. Sometimes I have to swear. Sometimes I have to step back for a minute and take a deep breath. It’s hard work but I won’t give up because I know it will be worth it.