The day God decided I would exist in this world is the same day he also decided not to bless me with a green thumb. While I can appreciate and admire a beautiful landscaping project or enjoy the smell of blooming and vibrant flowers, I have this uncanny inability to take care of all things green and growing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard plants whisper, aahhh...go away, whenever I am near them. And for some reason, I always find myself confused at the difference between annuals and perennials. I feel like annuals should mean that plants/flowers come back every year…annually…right? Doesn’t that make sense to you as well? But I guess it actually means that you have to re-plant them, annually.
I have a soft spot in my heart for traditions, which might explain my fascination with the whole concept of annuals vs. perennials. Traditions are the same over and over again...annually. They begin a certain way and with each year and the passing of time, they grow to have a deep and almost magical, meaning, to them. During my childhood, birthday’s had many traditions, one of them being that my mom would make any flavor of cake requested by the person celebrating (my favorite was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting...yes, all the chocolate, please). We would typically have dinner, open presents, and then have cake. It was familiar and known and set it stone. I found great solace and comfort in that stability.
However, as I’ve gotten older, it seems as if things are changing and traditions are slipping away. We are all busy and there are families and kids and meetings and all the other things on the schedule to work around. Life is no longer moving in an annual, or I should say, perennial-type fashion. And so that stability, at times, feels fleeting.
The first year I was separated, Christmas morning brought a jolt of unfamiliarity into my world. In the past, I was accustomed to waking up early (Santa had come!) with my husband and two dogs, making a warm cup of Christmas coffee to sip slowly on, turning on the TV so that 'A Christmas Story' could play in the background ceaselessly, and then sitting on the floor to open presents. I was surrounded by all sorts of festive Christmas decorations and those I loved the most. Peace. On. Earth. I could look out my large picture window and see the cars driving by, splashing the slush of the snow off their tires. And I could place my hand on the cool, dewy window, yet feel the warmth of the furnace and a soft, cozy blanket.
But that first year away was…lonely. I woke up to an empty bed in a basement with no windows to the outside. It was still cozy and warm and my Christmas tree was still bright, but everything else was missing. My perennial-life had now become an annual-life...no longer the same year after year. I would need to make new memories and new traditions going forward. The known had become the unknown.
But here’s what’s important to remember. Not everything is sustainable. Not everything will stand the test of time. This summer, I lost my beloved, stubborn and precocious four-legged friend, Chance. He passed away at the wee age of nine, much too early in my selfish opinion. The day we put him down, I couldn’t begin to imagine how my heart would recover from such a loss. He was my constant, every day, love and laughter. He was there…and then just like that, he wasn’t.
We lose things and people and pets and our hearts mourn for the perennial-life; the life that wishes for things to forever remain the same; unchanging. But things and people and pets and you and me are just here for a short time. This is not all there is, and oddly enough, I am comforted by that. I am reassured by the changing times and the ways we must morph into new and better-beings when the situation calls for us to do so. We can cherish our traditions and hold them with precious and lasting hearts, but we cannot expect this life to stay the same year after year. We must realize that the framework of our lives is not set in stone.
Annuals and perennials. I still mix them up from time to time, but that’s ok.
I’m learning to adjust. In all ways of growing.