Sylvia's plants

I’ve been in a real low for a couple days. It happens every once in a while, where for hours and hours I can not stop crying. I wander through my house, aimlessly sobbing. I sometimes pick up pictures of Sylvia along the way, or her urn, or her teddy bears or her blanket and move them to another spot along my wander, only to later return them to their original location. I slow down to a pathetically slow pace as I pass by her room, staring inside as it remains untouched still. She has three plants in her room; one is a coffee plant, another is a tiny bird’s nest fern on a shelf and another is clippings in a hanging jar from a variegated ivy I have in the living room. All were bought and placed there with intentions of being hers. I really only go through the door and actually into her room now to water them. I have probably over 20 plants in our home, a handful of which I have had for over 10 years, but those three are most important. For some reason, keeping them alive, in my head, symbolizes some sort of hope. 

The bird’s nest fern was actually a replacement. The first plant I bought was a tiny red and green variegated croton. It died shortly after I planted it in the mini terra cotta pot. I don’t know if it was because of poor soil or I absent-mindedly forgot to water it, but it remains as the only plant I’ve ever killed. I cried when I realized its demise. I felt terrible, guilty even. ‘Its just a plant,’ Carlos said. But it wasn’t to me. It was hers and I killed it. Its the only plant I’ve ever killed in my life, and it was hers. I bought the replacement plant, the lettuce-looking bird’s nest fern  that sits there now and planted it over the dead roots of the croton. This was probably when I was 30-35 weeks pregnant. I accidentally killed a plant, I got a new one, and I planted it on top of the dead ones remains. Since Sylvia has died this story has haunted me. Logically, the facts are pretty bland. But in grief or trauma, the brain can really romanticize things. The symbolism is about as apparent as a punch to the face, which is what this kind of feels like. Even the type of plant, ‘bird’s nest fern’, which I didn’t even know until I started to write this and looked it up. Spooky, no? Is it all just a big bizarre coincidence or was the croton dying some sort of sign from who knows where that my daughter, like the plant, would die?

A very good friend of mine along with my sister and mom put on my baby shower on an outrageously hot day in June. My friend has two little girls, one of which came to the shower and afterwards to our house to see where some of her hand-me-downs had gone to and to see Sylvia’s room. This happened to be a little girl who was about as excited as a four year old could possibly be for the arrival of a baby. She talked about Sylvia often, always asked about her, would touch my belly gently and referred to Sylvia as her best friend. It was either my friend or her daughter that brought a little dove from one of the tables at the shower and placed it in Sylvia’s room next to the plant on that day. It has stayed there since, guarding the little replacement plant on the shelf, next to a big gold S and watching over the room. Again, the symbolism nearly takes my breath away.

I don’t know what this all means, but I know that strange coincidences, or situations or realizations have transpired since Sylvia died. I am really, really terrified and unsure of what I even believe in anymore, as none of much of anything seems to make sense. A good friend of mine who’s mother passed away very suddenly years ago refers to these things that happen after a death as ‘kismet’. They are things that happen that do not support the idea that this was ‘meant to happen’ rather that because it has happened, here are some puzzle pieces that maybe make it fit a little easier, or softer, or with more peace. I find lots of kismet situations, and still, it doesn’t help necessarily, but it reminds me that Sylvia is here and there and everywhere I am.

Teresa MendozaComment