There’s nothing revelatory about gardening, per se, today. Heaven knows I’m still learning when it comes to growing anything. That was always Mikey’s domain. He grew it, I cooked it, or clipped it to make centerpieces.
Gaining confidence amongst the roses, bushes, and plants has been a fulfilling accomplishment, and today while pulling up some weeds, a thought occurred to me. I was staring at the eucalyptus growing. This is a new plant for me in the garden. I’ve added something new to it each year as I find my footing, and understand how my tiny patch of land works best.
Looking at the new growth on the eucalyptus, and seeing how it’s thriving in the garden made me think about the seasons, and how for this short period of time, the garden is full of life. It takes so much energy to keep it going—weeding, watering, harvesting. All that work eventually goes dormant, as summer winds down, fall settles in, and next thing you know, we’re blanketed by snow, weathering yet another winter.
And that’s when it hit me—that is what grief, loss, and trying to recover from it entails. It takes confidence to keep putting yourself out there, and I don’t mean dating. I’m talking about living, waking up each day, filled with hope. Sometimes existing is all you can do, putting one foot in front of the other is often the best accomplishment I can muster.
I was talking with a friend yesterday during a visit to my old Brooklyn neighborhood. Her husband passed away two weeks before Michael. I often watch how she’s doing from afar, staying connected through common friends and Facebook, and feel like she’s done such a better job than me navigating these murky waters. I told her that yesterday when she told me I looked great, and happy. And I am happy at this moment in time—tired, sad a lot, but really truly happy. I don’t think you can understand being simultaneously happy and sad unless you’ve experienced a deep loss, and some times the things that bring you down also lift you up. It’s a crazy thing.
Alison looked at me, and said, ‘You’re doing it. You moved, you leap, you’re not afraid of loving again, or being in a relationship.” I’ve always admired how she stayed in the old neighborhood, in the same apartment. It felt like a stability I longed for but couldn’t live up to, and yet I suppose we can look stable on the outside, and still have emotional earthquakes rattling our foundation.
Here’s the thing. Alison is not doing it wrong. I’m not doing it right. We’re both just doing it in a way that makes life bearable. Sometimes there are moments of true joy. Often there are moments of uncertainty. But, we are doing it. We are living, growing, likely doing things we might’ve never done if our husbands were still alive.
One of my girls asked me the other day if we would live in the country if their dad was still alive. I told them probably not. He had a tense job, one he loved, but he never wanted to be tethered to a set train schedule, and didn’t want to only see them 10 minutes a day, if that. So, this little oasis I’ve been working on creating for us wouldn’t exist. Like roses, part of my life was pruned, and while it’s taken time, there is new growth.
Part of my time in the garden yielded lots of fresh basil, so spaghetti with pesto is in my future for lunch today. I don’t have a new recipe to share, but did think it was a good time to resurrect five of my favorite recipes from the archives. There’s my classic pesto recipe, which uses pine nuts, and then below are the ones I’m more partial to that use other, less expensive, nuts. There’s also a recipe for one using walnuts in Homemade With Love. Hope the week is going well, and as always, thanks for letting me be a part of your lives, whether it’s cooking my recipes, or just reading the words I share across these pages. xo-Jennie