It took you three months to die.
I watched, holding my breath – “hang on” I cried in silent desperation each morning as I touched your leaves – I wept as each a fragile green shoot appeared and withered before my aching eyes. Stunted palm shaped fronds curled, turned gray with the poison in the air as invisible fungus spores settled on insect weakened leaves. I managed to kill the bugs within a week but it was already too late.
Some part of me knew that I was losing you almost from the first day we arrived there, but I couldn’t stay with that truth. I could not help you because I could not help myself. We were both drowning in grief – You became the mirror for the two months of torment that we both endured, the lack of sleep, the weakening of our will, our inability to fight a kind of darkness that became your death shroud…
I had a prophetic dream two days after I arrived. In the vision Iren and I were in a hospital watching a woman die. That woman dear passionflower, was made of plants and human flesh. That woman, of course, was the two of us entwined…
Who can separate a woman from her plant and animal soul?
Maybe when we get out… I would think in desperation as I too became ill.
I had moments of wild hope.
When Grace opened a door for escape we fled.
Perhaps, in this house made of light you might still recover? I mused. You were hanging on by a thread. I brought you into our bedroom hoping to warm dying roots. I saw each new shoot struggle to take form as you tried so desperately to live while I choked on the same prayer. “Oh please grow,” I begged, “I cannot stand to lose you.”
I know one truth. If I could have I would have let you go more gracefully than I did. Decomposing roots and leaves returning to the warming earth to nourish new plants and trees is closing the circle of life.
But I had already lost too much too fast…
And I am human.
I was selfish, I know.
As the warming light settled on your pitiful trunk, now cut back to it’s only living arm I still hoped, even as I watched bud after bud appear and shrivel until at last, a week ago, there was only one tiny green nub left…
This morning that one bud gave up the ghost of your soul.
The canyon was flooded with mountain bluebirds returning for spring…
All day I circled back to stand over your dead body. I held you close to my heart – imagined you wrapping your beautiful leaves around me – you were part of my family – and I was grieving.
When the cloak of night closed on bleeding crimson sky I picked up your dead trunk and pot and gently placed it outside in the cold night air. It seemed for a moment that even the stars cracked and dimmed over my head, or perhaps it was the tears I shed. A solitary coyote howled down by the river.
You were my sister for thirteen years. Losing you I lost a part of myself that I will not recover. Your bountiful passionate vines that spiraled to the sky and blossomed impossibly fragrant crowns of blue tipped flowers, to my endless child-like delight, have entered deep time. Our joy in each other’s presence has been stilled forever.
I asked Iren for cuttings….
These came from your mother. Last year I gave this plant to her as a gift – (my most precious plant besides you) – in the depths of my gratitude for this woman who has such a great and generous heart.
Perhaps, one day, I will once again see a fragrant pink multi – petaled face with a startling cobalt blue crown appear out of the emerald green of healthy spiraling vines that will begin their lives flourishing in the same house where you once bloomed with such joyful abandon.
Each morning I search for that first root to appear… Be patient I remind myself ruefully. Be patient!
But no other plant will ever replace my love for you, not ever.
When I awakened in the pre-dawn hours this morning I went outside and stood there at the river’s edge watching the sky turn crimson again… my heart was torn in two – and yet from sunset to dawn, the Earth closed round us both.
Postscript one day later:
This morning one of the cuttings I am trying to root developed a small blossom – literally overnight. Although it will not bloom – I know this from experience having rooted so many cuttings for others – it was if the passionflower cutting responded to this writing in the most powerful way she could.
Some would call this synchronicity – I call it interspecies communication and offer my heartfelt gratitude for this message of hope.