Grief is part of the human condition. The very cyclical nature of humanity and nature demands its presence. Kubler-Ross tried to define it as a process, and to some degree helped us to understand its complexities. While it is universal, it cannot be conveniently tied into a perfect bow: no two people experience grief the same way. The month of August is for me personally, the month of grieving.
There was a magical ring around the moon, said to be formed by the presence of ice crystals in the atmosphere, the morning my Grandmother passed, eight years ago today. Barely four o’clock in the morning, her passing brought to a close a life that had endured ninety two years. She was my everything. She saw through to the heart and soul of who I was: more than just a toe headed Grandson, there resided deep within me an affinity for all things green and shady. It was she who first introduced me to the ‘darkling woods’ of Lambton County – home to the serpentine beauty of Arisaema triphyllum, and the regal splendor of Cypripedium reginae.
I visited her grave in the weeks and months following, grappling with the fear that were I to actually utter the word ‘Goodbye’, I would find myself alone, without my mentor and confidante, and worse still, I would forget the sound of her voice. Family and friends voiced concern, to no avail. It wasn’t until the following Spring, while on a solitary walk through another of the darkling woods, was I finally able to let her go. It was peaceful – a tranquility punctuated by the snapping of twigs with each footfall – with only the gentlest of sunlit fingers punctuating the dense canopy. Where I would usually be frightened of losing my way, on this particular morning I willingly succumbed to following an obvious path that lay before me. I crossed a stream with remnants of ice still present and headed up a gentle incline. It was there that I spotted the familiar trifoliate leaf of our native Arisaema. The air seemed to thicken and warm around me and I could hear her voice as though she were standing right beside me. My breath caught in my throat and my eyes filled with tears. She had been there all along, and it took my finding what for many years we both referred to as ‘our special place’ for me to make this joyous realization.
Seven years have passed since that Spring walk in the ‘darkling wood.’ In the ensuing years I have continued to cultivate my own shaded woodland sanctuary on my postage stamp sized property, and have dedicated myself in recent years to cultivate many of the wonderful genera that my Grandmother first introduced me to all those years ago. It is my personal commitment to ensuring that her green legacy, lovingly shared with me, her Grandson, will continue to live on here at Teza’s Hortus Magnificum. My hour in the garden has filled my heart and soul with your magical presence dear Grandmother. Please continue to visit me and my garden of treasures whenever the desire should strike!