I received a stem from my mom’s jade plant a year or so ago. She potted a shoot for each of her kids last Christmas: a single stem with one or two perfected glossy leaves, planted in a teenie terracotta container, rough and completely perfect for each of us to love and care for.
What she may not have known at the time was that I had tried to keep similar plants alive for a decade or so before this, all ending in the somewhat inevitable death of a succulent with dried up stems and wilting leaves, the soil never right. I had gone through four or five and was never successful.
I had told my therapist years prior, during one of our elusive sessions on why I continually sabotaged my efforts to gain health and happiness, that the jade she chose for her singular living thing in her office was a brave one. She asked me why. I told her jade plants often times took on the energy of their environment and her clients may be the indirect future death of her Walmart-purchased choice. When I sat in the exact same chair a couple of years later during my separation, I asked her where her jade was. She said she brought it home because she took my words to heart and couldn’t keep it alive in her office.
I guess, for once, my advice (through my own homicidal plant experiences ) was right.
I took that little stem my mom gave me and kept it in that terracotta pot. It sat on the kitchen window sill of my newly obtained townhouse. This was the very first time in my 39 years I could call a place my very own. My home was mine and my kids’. I didn’t pay much attention to that little jade. I watered it infrequently and then, a couple months later I noticed it was getting heavy with new growth and hope.
Three months later, I was given a brown planter’s pot that was thrifted in Port Elgin from a past love, the pottery matching my mom’s 1970’s salt and pepper shakers and French Onion Soup bowls I had known and equated to my childhood. I moved my little jade plant to that pot and moved it to an old champagne pail holder and it sat proudly by my living room window, often times being grazed by playing and fighting kids and my cat who loved to jump up on the window plotting his escape daily.
My jade was living a good life. It was mirroring all that was going on in my life. A new relationship, a freedom from roles or expectation, a full time job that (at the time) I thought I loved. It was happy and so was I.
Not long after, it starting sprouting new leaves and was singing its praise. That little shoot from my mom’s 20 year old mamma bear plant had found its roots and was thriving.
I was then in one of the most amazing Chinese supermarket north of the city and as we checked out with what was probably some pretty cool looking vegetables and fresh fish, there were a few jade pots at the counter. One was purchased for me and I brought it home. It was planted in that brown pottery next to my happy and boisterous jade. It gladly shared its home to the new neighbour, although who knows the story of where it came from. It was a different species but just as beautiful and mysterious. We all welcomed it.
Just today, I decided to separate my two plants. My mom’s needed room to breath. It was starting to fall because of the weight of it’s stems, newly formed leaves, roots pulling at the re-used soil from the plants before it.
Now, I have zero grace in anything I do. If you have ever worked out with me, you will know this to me true, or cooked with me. Both the gym and the kitchen are left as if a tornado has put it’s course through, not leaving any survivors behind. My project today was no different.
The clean dishes I had stacked from the dishwasher to my counter were covered in soil, mini leaves fallen from both plants into the drain of my kitchen sink with no hope of survival. I had evidence on my hands, in my hair and somehow on the creases of my purple moccasin-type slippers. The task at hand was daunting. My mom’s plant was not proving to be as robust as I had hoped. It was losing it’s life quickly and I started to panic. But, with my kids sitting eating their freshly made pancakes, I thought up a way to save it and both plants were haphazardly placed in their newly fashioned homes. With a knife stuck in the soil, I was hopeful.
I rarely use that term – hope/hopeful/hopefully. These words always leaving me feel as though the situation is beyond practical application of result and that I don’t have control.
This is how I felt… but then, as I looked at both plants, separated again after spending so much time so closely together, the only emotion I felt was hope.
“And sometimes separating two things that spent so much time side by side is the best next step. Some leaves may break off, soil all over the floor and counter and stems a little droopy at first, but it’s the only way each can flourish.
A life lesson from my jade plants this morning.”
Tonight, as I listen to an old playlist, sip my dark rum and diet pepsi and face doing my taxes for the first time since 2015 (since my separation), I am hopeful things are untangling as they should.
Separation of two things, people, is okay if the pot was a little crowded and the stems were beginning to feel heavy. It’s okay to imagine rooting in something new, even though not having what you grew accustom to have isn’t right beside you any longer.
My jade plants will survive this. They were once alone and a random act brought them together. And then, they were alone again.
It’s what is needed sometimes.
And that’s pretty hopeful.