There's a potted plant in a basket on the top of our piano. Someone gave it to us after Riley died. I don't remember who gave it to us, but I do remember thinking that the last thing I needed was a beautiful plant reminding me of Riley. Because I knew that sooner or later (and probably sooner, knowing my track record with house plants) it would die from neglect.
Well, it is still there. Alive. Not thriving, of course. In fact, it is quite a miracle that it is still hanging in there at all. But what used to be four plants in one basket has slowly dwindled, and only one plant remains. I was afraid that watching it die would be one of the most depressing things imaginable. But that basket has come to symbolize something that I hadn't anticipated.
The plant reminds me of Riley, yes. And the task of watering has always been a little bittersweet. But the plant doesn't symbolize Riley, as I was afraid it would. Instead I've recently come to the realization that the reason the plant's slow demise doesn't bother me is because it actually represents my grief.
Grief, as I've learned, is not something you can ignore or bury. It's something that needs to be fluid, constantly ebbing and flowing, moving and evolving. There are times when I must let it completely wash over me, allowing myself to explore the depth of my grief, because only then can I watch the tide go all the way back out again.
Exactly two years have passed, and the waters of grief are relatively calm. The tide doesn't wash over me as often as it used to. And as the potted plant diminishes, so does my grief. It's still there. I still water it. But the plant is smaller, so the task is easier. So on this day I'm able to feel encouraged. Hopeful. And ready to keep going forward.