On Memorial Day 2018, the first summer after Adam died, my friend Beth arrived at my mom’s place in Westhampton with a happy pink flowered potted dipladenia plant for the cottage porch. It stayed there the whole summer where I watered and cared for it carefully and deliberately. Beth didn’t realize (even I hadn’t become quite conscious of it yet) that I’d developed a new determination regarding plant care for those I received after Adam’s death. My new obsession to keep them all thriving, or at least just alive, is probably some sort of textbook grief 101; it was sometimes even a burden, bordering on daunting or threatening, since I’d never had any success prior.
Almost five years later, that same plant has traveled back and forth after subsequent summer seasons and spent winters in different spots throughout my home as I’ve built my skill assessing best light and balancing it with locations where its hydration needs won’t be forgotten. This winter the dipladenia plant is in the living room right under a beautiful portrait of Adam at the desk where he always situated himself to play Minecraft. (My bathroom has also turned into a rainforest with orchids and tropical plants imposing on any remaining space in the shower for shampoo and soap…)
Christmas decorating happened late this year due to the hecticness of life for some of us, and by the time the boxes came down from the attic, admittedly I’d lost some cheer. My daughter Mindy got to it all with greater enthusiasm, including the box with the olive wood Nativity set made in Jerusalem that I’d treasured since I was young when I would set it up with my dad. “Oh, I love the Jesus people. I’m happy I get to do it this year,” and she proceeded to arrange it all on the desk, right next to and under the plant, with its green leaves accentuating and surrounding the manger. It’s not where, or how, I would have done it, or how or where it’s always been, but the energy she brought to the task was far more fitting. And a few days later, on Christmas Eve, as I walked by and noticed it, because it was now in a spot that I walk by and notice more frequently, I was struck when I saw a flower bud forming right over the manger. That plant has not flowered in the winter in five years!
Last week I shared the story with a work friend. “It’s like a Christmas miracle.” She responded and went on, “No, that’s what it is. It’s a Christmas miracle. It’s amazing. And you’re always getting miracles. Not that you haven’t had a lot of tragedy too, but I’ve never met someone who has as many miracles all the time as you.”
And she’s right about the flower, and me. Truly, that pink flower over my Nativity scene is a Christmas miracle! And every time I walk by it I stop and smile and feel appreciation for the fact that I’ve been so favored in its presentation (I really do), rather than just chalking it up to a fluke and letting its greatness get lost behind holiday prep, detail, sadness, and clean-up. And purple and pink sunsets are miracles too. Gifts of awareness of Adam’s eternal powerful presence, reminders he’s still here, and he’s got our backs – with such exaggerated extravagance! And birds, how could that happen?? If I stay tuned into that miracle, a stressful meeting or heavy burden is reduced to barely even real in comparison. 2022 was a miracle too! New jobs, new friends, exciting trips and adventures, waterfalls, great food, even greater peace and joy, overshadowing anxiety over what was to come or needed to be done, or worry about my loved ones.
As I sit here recovering from all the revelry, and preparing myself for the return to January real life, I’m grateful for this new awareness, this newfound miracle lens on life. Because not a lot changed in 2022 except my perspective and where I was placing my attention, and yet everything changed, and there’s no going back, and that’s truly a miracle!
Happy New Year! May your 2023 be a year of presence and miracles!
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