I’m so thankful that this quarantine is happening during the spring. If it was winter I don’t know what we would do with ourselves. But every day we are outside in the soft grass, under my dogwoods (they bloom for my birthday every year, did you know that?), walking around the yard enjoying all the flowers we inherited on the property. Seriously, spring is glorious at our house which is a blessing I never knew I needed. We have dogwoods (I mentioned), daffodils, peonies, tulips, azaleas, snowball hydrangeas, a tulip magnolia, and irises. And these things were established when we moved in. Even our grass blooms: buttercups, clover, stargazer flowers, violets, and some little tower of purple flowers I don’t know the name of.
I’ve always been thankful that this stuff was here when we moved in because, though I am my parents’ daughter, I’ve always liked the idea of gardening more than gardening itself. I don’t like to sweat, I sunburn easily, and I understand that you can’t procrastinate weeding if you want to grow anything besides weeds. So I never planned to have a well manicured yard. As my momma taught me to say: I’m good at other things. It was such a pleasant surprise when the yard started blooming our first spring here. What a gift!
But this year is different. At Nana’s memorial on Valentine’s Day (God, those words still bring tears to my eyes. How painful to lose someone who loves you so well!), there were three GIGANTIC peace lilies. They were beautiful and green and hopeful next to the picture of my Nana reading to a classroom full of kids. And I wanted to take one home.
I’ve never had a plant in the house, but I brought home the biggest of the three and put it in the living room. The kids kept saying that we live in a jungle now. It is seriously taller than Andrew. There it stood in my living room, proving that things still grow.
Suddenly, I was hooked. As Robin says, I became a plant lady. I started buying plants every time I left the house. I discovered they are a great antidote to sadness. Two weeks after Nana died, we had to stop pursuing a referral (another precious little one, not Eliza). A fresh wave of grief. I bought two philodendrons that day. I helped my mom make some decisions about some of Nana’s clothes one day at their house. I brought home a plant of Nana’s from her living room. Now it is in mine. The first Friday in nine years that there were no grandparents to visit, Anna, Sam and I bought a plant for their bathroom, a plant for each of their rooms, and an air plant for my car. Yes, my car. I want plants everywhere.
The urge to fill the house with green things only got stronger after we saw sweet Elizabeth’s face. If ever there was proof that spring is here, she is it. Now I can’t be stopped. It’s a good thing I can’t go to the store very often right now because I always seem to come home with a plant. I’ve been getting tulips in pots to keep on the bar in the kitchen. When the flowers fade I plant them along the edge of the house. Not sure if they will come up next year or not, but it will be a nice surprise if they do. Andrew informed me that there are now 23 living things in the house including us, the dog, his betta fish, and the plants.
This need to fill my life with new things is not limited to plants. I’ve read more books in the last three weeks than in all of 2020 so far. I’ve busted out a pair of socks, fingerless mitts, a small plush toy and a scarf, and I’ve started Sara’s new baby’s blanket. And I’m writing every day.
Before Adam died, this was who I was. I did a thousand things, always squeezing a little more out of each day, adding new projects and new things to learn. I figured I’d just keep adding to my plate until it overflowed. Then I would know I was doing as much as I wanted with my life. I think of this as something fundamentally Trantham about me. My dad is certainly the same, and Papa, and his mother.
Then my brother left us and grief filled up most of my plate. For the first time I cut back. I did less. I gave myself permission (with help from people who loved and listened to me) not to knit, not to read, if I didn’t feel like it. It was hard and foreign not to be busy and making things, but it was the right thing. I wondered if I would ever feel the surge of maker-ness overflow again. Truthfully, I missed it.
Here in the middle of a global pandemic that threatens to keep us from our girl for even more months, I’m finding spring blooming in my own heart. I feel a fresh version of my old self emerging after a long winter hibernation. The promise of Eliza, the pictures and videos we get of her sweet self from half a world away, they bring with them a Joy that cannot be squashed by this world.
The world is broken and full of disease, but my girl is in this world, and we will be together.
And there will be plants.
Josh and Emily
We hope that by sharing our steps, challenges, and milestones of our adoption, you will see yourself as part of the community we hope to build around our child as she grows up.