When I got divorced, I left my garden in June.
That was eight days ago.
Our two trees, Yoshino Cherry and Forest Pansy Redbud stood in the front yard. I hated that redbud. The cherry bloomed prolifically; the redbud was a real “pansy.” Last year, its purple leaves slumped, buds refused to bloom. What was left shriveled up at the start of winter. And this year, not much promise. I snapped the dead branches off the top and just let her be.
All I did for you! I ran the hose every night for a whole summer. Fertilizer and mulch – nothing was ever good enough.
I’d scoff at her, scrubbing a pile of dishes. She pales in comparison to the cherry.
Then, June. She heard my cries. Hot pink bunches brightened the darkest of my days. Turns out she was a late bloomer.
It’s amazing what we can get used to. I, quickly, got used to the idea of leaving my garden. It was time.
I watched the peonies bud and bloom, beside the irises: a flood of pink and purple. The red poppies ready to burst. I jumped just after the Johnnys … from Bluebell to Bethlehem – my house on Bluebell Road, with my soon-to-be ex-husband, to Bethlehem, with my cat Honey.
Weeks prior, he and I had slaved over the vegetable garden. He built 13 raised beds and ordered tons of mushroom soil … the good stuff. The basil sprouts watched us; we got into a rhythm, him shoveling and me raking. Yet dahlias doubted we would make it the rest of the season. Even the wildflower garden didn’t bother – weeds consume the once lush black-eyed susan and queen anne’s lace.
I stayed in the house alone the last two weeks of May. One afternoon, the lawn mower interrupted my apartment search. It is nice of him to keep up with the yard, I thought. I would have appreciated a heads up. I walked out, with our coin jar in hand, sunglasses shading the dark circles under my eyes. I offered him a nod and he sent a sad smile.
I came “home” to a tailored lawn. I guess I can take a few minutes to walk around. The west side still looked beautiful … but the poppy buds were gone. Did I imagine them all along? No. They were ready.
“We both do things out of anger,” he said soon after.
He had whacked the poppies to the ground. The peonies and irises endured, but he knew how I waited all year long for my red ladies.
And soon, so was I.
My therapist insisted I face this fear. “What would it be like if you and him separated?” she probed. “We don’t know that it would be bad.”
In a way, it was beautiful. I felt more connected with my husband than ever. We could finally be honest with each other. Nothing left to lose.
He spread a yellow blanket on the grass. I plucked a daffodil (also a late bloomer) and set it between us as a barrier. As we laid down, I realized, “Why didn’t we do this more often?”
We were too busy buzzing about. Gotta plant the veggies … keep the beds weeded … divide the perennials.
It was only when we let it all go, that we could garden mindfully. We let our limbs loose and danced through the pathways we had worked so hard to maintain. Tending to the garden one last time, each task a fleeting moment … we saw things that normally would have passed us by. A pod of string bean seeds had survived the winter. “They’re more beautiful than the ones from the store,” we agreed. One by one, he plucked them out and set them in my hand.
I head down one path, he another. We decide to plant them in the widest bed, meant for tomatoes; all plans flew out the window. One seed at a time, we hope for the best. I pinch each hole, as he sets the seed in place. Then we switch roles.
The Yoshino and Redbud await us in the front yard. They’re both still so young. The cherry has finished blooming; a bird’s nest chokes the trunk. The pansy, once the bane of my existence, beams a ray of hope. Her leaves, shaped like hearts, dance in the wind without a care. Maybe one day, I can be like her. A little lop-sided, with room for growth, and the know-how to bloom at exactly the right time and place.