The Plant

Almost 10 years ago our mailbox was filled with sympathy cards, and our phones and doorbell rang often by those wanting to check on us after our son Elliot died. We eventually cleaned out his room and shared his clothes and toys in ways we believed honored God and Elliot's memory.

So many things came and went in the blink of an eye, which is why people often gift plants after a loss. It's something that can grow with us as we grow and move forward, all while remembering our loved one who died.

I kill plants... all plants. My ancestors would be mortified at my inability to keep alive anything that's green. I immediately killed several plants gifted to us after Elliot's death. What a horrible feeling! The two remaining plants were promptly rescued by my husband, who took them to live in his office. He would often send pictures, much like a babysitter does for a parent who likes to know all the happenings of a child while they are away. If the child is happy and thriving, then the parent feels much less guilty about being away. Ron would share how the plants were holding up and all the nice things his clients would say about them. It felt good to know they were safe and thriving under his care - all guilt was lifted!

One of the remaining plants died a few years ago, and the other returned to our home when Ron got a new job and office with no windows. While Ron has remained its primary caretaker while under our roof, I have occasionally rotated it so that each side can enjoy the sunlight. I'm such a responsible plant owner... I've only knocked it off the pedestal once!

The windows and natural light in our home do not lend themselves to a large plant, and this plant will not survive outdoors! Each day (yes, I mean EVERY day), our boys complain about it poking them as they sit at the dinner table (there's no other place to put the thing!!!). Since the plant is a remembrance of Elliot, I chuckle upon each complaint as if the poke came from Elliot himself trying to annoy his older and younger brother.
It's awesome to know the plant is thriving almost 10 years later, but we are not receiving joy from it (as the gift giver intended) - only pokes at the dinner table, so Ron and I have arranged for a new home for our beautiful plant. Our friends Jim and Cindy, who love plants and nature, have a beautiful country home in Missouri with lots of windows and a welcoming spot for a large plant that desperately needs re-potting. Not only do they have a perfect spot for our wonderful plant, but they clung tightly to us as we (and they) grieved Elliot in the years following his death. This will not just be any plant to them. They will love it well, and I will once again receive pictures and hear how it brings joy to others.
Death and loss are weird. It can tightly connect us to objects we would normally care little to nothing about. These objects seem as if they will keep us connected to our loved ones in some way forever, but the objects themselves are also mortal - they break, wear out, or die.
This weekend, as I waved goodbye to the plant, I know that I am stronger. I have no illusions about the pain and suffering that comes with death or about the joy and comfort that can accompany it. For these things I have learned and experienced, I am grateful.
The only regret I have with this plant is that it never acquired a name! Think about it - I had to tell this whole story only calling it "the plant"! How impersonal!
Help a girl out... What do you think we should name the plant?

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