Lessons From Plants, Redux
My foster son became rather depressed when his plant—a gift from his mother—began shedding a lot of its leaves. The plant wasn’t dying, and it didn’t appear to be under any more stress than usual. But still, it lost leaves.
Several of them.
“Are you watering it enough?” he asked me, fingering the remaining leaves with tender care. I assured him that I was, that this loss was part of the growth process.
But he was not convinced. Instead, he seemed rather distressed by the losses that it suffered. He almost seemed to grieve those fallen leaves. He stood next to that pot, a vigilant sentinel, as though his presence might soothe away its stress. But still, the leaves died and fell.
Loss is, after all, part of the growth process.
I saw my doctor earlier this week and he told me that because of the type of epilepsy I have (partial, with a right temporal lobe onset) and four drug failures, the odds of controlling my seizures with medication alone are now a mere 15-25%. That percentage jumps to 60-75% with brain surgery, which still terrifies me. And I’m not sure those odds are high enough for me to sign myself up for a lobotomy.
I applied for Social Security disability earlier this month. I hated doing it. It felt like admitting defeat. But I am in no state to hold a job right now—my hold on consciousness is so feeble at times. The government requested more information from me this week—my husband had to fill out a seizure witness form, and I had to explain the types of seizures I have (their duration, their frequency, their severity). Filling out those forms, admitting that I had become incapacitated to this degree, felt like a loss, much like those leaves, dreams once so bright and vibrant and new themselves, that had shriveled on the vine and fallen to the ground.
But my foster son, ever mindful of his plant, pointed out the tiny explosions of new growth on those same vines that had just shed those dead leaves, a thousand green fireworks spiraling into the air, more leaves than it had lost, full of promise and life. He has suffered his own losses—more than I can comprehend—and those losses have allowed him room to expand and grow in ways and places he never dreamed. He has grown so much—more than any of us ever thought possible. He understands this natural cycle better than I ever could. He has lost so much, but each loss has been a pruning. It is good to see. It brings me hope.
Loss is part of the growth process. It prepares the way for new growth, and I can feel the buds within me, daring to nudge through the loss and unfurl their blooms.
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