My houseplants and I have a standing agreement. If they want to stick around, I will feed and water them, taking them outside in the summer where they can snuggle under the shrubbery soaking up the rain and sunshine. In return they agree to fill our home with greenery and flowers once the weather turns cold and I bring them back inside.
Plants, I find, are like people. They are all different, even those of the same variety. They take on different shapes. Some thrive and some struggle. Most like different things and have different needs. Some are short lived and some hang around for years. Some do better in direct sun. Some, like my Christmas cactus and aloe plants prefer shade and indirect sun and less water.
My Christmas cactus that bloom closer to Thanksgiving always put on a good show, but this year it is as if the plants know I’ve needed an extra floral hug and now is the time to bloom. In all the years I’ve had these Christmas cactus, I have never seen them so full of buds and flowers. They are literally exploding with color, all in various stages of bloom. One is so filled with vibrant red flowers it is difficult to see any greenery. The other three are opening more slowly, for which I am grateful. Even the geraniums I brought in are setting a new round of buds.
In a few minutes I will be calling the hospital to see if they have worked things out for my husband to come home…this time on hospice. I glance at my floral friends, grateful for their reminder that there is a time for everything as the writer of Ecclesiastes said…a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to dance and a time to refrain from dancing, a time to hang on and a time to let go, a time to live and a time to die…
We have no idea what awaits us once my husband comes home and settles into his beloved recliner. There will be challenges. Our emotions will be all over the place. Family and friends will be coming and going to say “I love you” and “goodbye.” This good man, my husband, has achieved the grand old age of 85, not a bad record for someone who has lived with chronic illness since he was a young man. Given most of us tend to take life for granted, assuming we can always go somewhere or do something tomorrow, his coming home on hospice before he is literally on his death bed is a unique gift with it’s straightforward insistence that all we have is now, this very moment.
For this, I am truly grateful.