Learning to Bloom Again

Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you feel like you’ve been buried, but really you’ve been planted.

— Christine Caine


I’m really not a good gardener. Once, a boyfriend gave me a beautiful pot of succulents for our anniversary. I promptly killed them. (Maybe I should have known then that we were doomed.)

Over the years, I’ve managed to swiftly torture every plant in my home — cute little Rosemary trees at Christmas, sturdy cacti from a friend’s wedding (sorry, Stacy!) and numerous orchids, despite everyone claiming they are soo easy to take care of:

“You only water them once a week!”

“The trick is ice cubes!”

I swear, I’ve tried these things, and spent like at least an hour Googling and Pinteresting tips and tricks to keep my little plants alive, and alas, nothing. I chalked it up to a brown thumb and just replaced the dead ones with new cute varietals as needed.

This past spring, my sister bought me a huge, beautiful orchid as a thank you present for the huge, beautiful Mother’s Day barbecue I threw for the moms in my family. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. Oh shit, I thought as soon as I saw it. I’m going to kill that thing so quick.

When I verbalized this thought to my mother and sister, they echoed the previous advice I’d heard: orchids are easy! Ice cubes, every week or two. And so, I fastidiously followed their advice and my orchid lasted for a few months. Then it started to wither, and I was sure it was dead.

When the leaves on the blooms started to wither, I sheepishly told my sister that my orchid had died, careful not to admit to any direct blame.

“Ice cubes,” was her response. ENOUGH WITH THESE FUCKING ICE CUBES, PEOPLE.

“Tried that.”

“Oh. Well mine lost it’s blooms, too,” she admitted. This secretly satisfied me. Maybe orchids weren’t so easy.

I did my usual poking around online but couldn’t decided if my poor plant needed more or less water and sun, so I kept it near the window, gave it ice cubes every week or so and watched the flowers fall off completely. Oh well, I thought. That was nice while it lasted. I kept icing it, though, just in case. [In my feng shui phase, removing a ‘live plant’ from my living space felt wrong.]

And something miraculous started to happen about a week ago. I watched as mini-blooms appeared on its branches. And slowly, those mini blooms turned into full-on blossoms. And today when I woke up, one of the buds opened into a real live flower.

This all seems so symbolic to me, not just because I’ve never been able to keep a plant alive for more than a few months, but because it seems to represent a re-birth. Eight months ago today, my life felt like it ended. Everything I thought I knew, had hoped and dreamed, it all shattered. Months of pressure finally exploded and in one single instant — an instant created by so many other instances, conversations, silences, choices — my life became something I didn’t recognize or want anymore. I decided I’d rather be dead. In a way, I felt dead.

Like that orchid, I lost my blooms, my joy, my beauty, my way to soak up the sun from life. Or I thought I had.

But the truth is, I hadn’t. While I might have looked and felt dead and broken and ugly to myself and to the world, I wasn’t. I was there — inside — growing and rebuilding — so I could bloom again. Emerging, from that dark time, stronger; a deeper shade of me: beautiful. Weathered but not bitter; more resilient and confident that next time my flowers wither and fall, I’ll know I’m not dead or broken but just preparing for better times ahead. ❤