At first, it was small. Her leaves started to droop and fall one by one, and her luscious green colour began to fade away. Her neck began to choke and twist feebly with every movement. If she was a person, she would have stopped leaving her bed, and her eyes would blink open; only to fall back into the realms of sleep moments later.
Constantly I was telling myself that this plant, Gaia, would come back to life. I drew upon all my knowledge of the winds, sky, temperature, soil, watering schedule, seasonal changes, and I could not think of what could be causing her sorrows.
I sat contemplating her one day, her sad foliage falling around her slender form like a beaten, dusty dress that once used to spin with colour and life. I reached for her stem, which was shrivelled and shrunken, and lifted. She went one way, and her roots twisted and went another.
Her stem had always been proud and regal; upon her spine sat a crown of green that she could never bear to drop. But as I picked her up, the movement caused a knot to appear in her stem. A knot made of her twisted and dead stem. Did she cry out? Did her eyes open gently? Or did she just lie still, carrying on as usual.
I took my sheers and I cut into her; cutting infection from the bright and beautiful. I could not simply let her die.
She had root rot.
I was ashamed to admit it; it was the result of my own care. This plant which had been so vibrant, had been my pride and joy, was dying before my eyes. For months I saw her silent plight but I ignored it.
The wound torn by my knife slowly dried up, and I lay her in a vial of holy water, hoping to see new life. I imagined briefly the thought of seeing pale white roots search from her sides as life prevailed. I shut my mind down and thought; “perhaps she will just die”.
Gaia has a daughter, who we call Nova. Nova stood proudly next to her mother for a long time; a testament to her youth. The health of her leaves only highlighted the drabness in Gaia, the sweet mother who she was plucked from. The daughter who was her pride and joy now made her tired, frail and vulnerable.
I wonder if Nova ever felt guilt for having healthy roots and wide-open leaves that could absorb the sun and replenish her life force whenever she needed. Gaia’s were paper thin and ripped open at the softest brush.
I wondered if it was cruel to have mother and daughter so close together when one was at death’s door. I did not move them apart. It did not seem right to, after all they had been through together.
In my fervour, I unpotted Nova and pulled through her soil. I untangled the compost she gathered around her for safety. I pulled my fingers through her soil like a comb pulls through soft waves of hair. I was desperate for her roots to be healthy, strong and beating. I worried for her heart.
As I got closer to Nova’s core, I began to untangle rocks, secrets and stones. What did she keep them here for? It struck me that this plant, this one little plant was holding on to such a weight, deep beneath her foliage. I tore it out and threw it aside. I ran water over her roots, and inspected them.
What was used to the gentle caress of the dark was now exposed and open for everyone to see. I wonder if she shivered in the cold, or grimaced as my eyes searched for signs of infection.
She was healthy. I smiled, knowing that Gaia would be proud. It did not occur to me, that in my fear for her safety, I might have just destroyed what was left of her new life.
For me, this story is about how loss is something that is felt throughout lives, consistently and continuously. It is not something that is just “gotten over” and healed; it is something that one endures and that it aches every time.
This story speaks on the fear of mortality, that passes through to the next generation for their lives.
What are your own interpretations of this story? Did you like it, did you dislike it? I won’t be offended! I would love to read some of your own stories on how you see grief.
Nothing would give me greater joy, than if you would like to submit a creative writing piece about grief for the month of March’s As Told By You. Sometimes, as in my case, it is easeir to talk about what you are feeling through creative writing, rather than expressing your own experiences. You can submit by heading over to our contact us page, or emailing in at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this story; I am so glad anyone would take the time to pick this up.