grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where I Spill My Guts

I have a good friend who says she can always tell how I'm doing by my garden blog. "If you're blogging, everything's good!" She's right. The amount of blog posts you read here is directly proportional to how good things are in my life, or how bad.

This gardening season (well really all of 2009) has been filled with extreme ups and downs and honestly there have been chunks of time where I've struggled with regular ole day-to-day things.

Last October my now late father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. We entered 2009 in a heightened state of anxiety about his health and impending death. No matter how much we tried, it was impossible to feel normal. It was a dark shadow that followed us every step.

Early in the year I helped plan and coordinate a get-together here in Chicago for a bunch of garden bloggers. It was hard work and there were a lot of bumps along the way but the worst thing about it was that, when it was over, I was simply glad it was in the past. It really changed the way I view garden blogging and if I had a time machine, I'd have stayed in my cave where everything/everybody is happy. Don't get me wrong, I met some fantastic people that I'd likely never have met, but still...

In April I married my favorite person in the world. We never thought we'd do it but somewhere along the way things started to change. I started thinking I didn't want them calling my mother to ask her what to do if I was on my death bed. His father was dying and we suddenly realized that we only had a little more time if we wanted him to be there. And we did. So we did. Surrounded by amazing flowers and the people who love us the most.

My father-in-law died in July just three short months after our wedding. He suffered terribly. So much so that when he finally passed, we were relieved because he wouldn't have to suffer anymore. That we didn't have to watch him suffer anymore. That lasted for about two hours. Since then it's mostly been hours stringing into days of sadness. Watching my husband be this heart broken is the worst thing I've ever seen. We miss him so much. We miss his laugh. He was one hilarious dude and I'm thankful that my husband has his sense of humor. The most important thing in the world to him was his family. And that has made me see family in a different way. It's so stupid that it takes the death of somebody so wonderful to see the simplest things.

I planted a garden in his memory. In it are a Japanese maple (because they are unforgettable and so was he), a sundial that I bought with money he gave me and a couple of coneflowers (a Tennessee and a Coconut Lime) because they are still my favorite, and they remind me of a good day I had this summer with friends.

The other great thing that happened this year was that J and I got our community garden going. We built and rented a dozen or so raised beds and we've gotten started on our 501c3. It really is a dream realized but I can't help but think it would feel real different were it not being filtered through 2009 crap. I've had a hard time staying motivated about it and it has shown in my dedication (lack of) this summer. I can't wait for next year. I know it will feel better.

OH - and there was that trip to Las Vegas for my tasty tomato. I still can't believe it. We're holding that trip in our back pockets until it seems possible to actually have fun again.

Just to make things a little more interesting, I also changed jobs. I'm still with the same organization. Now, I'm an "IT guy". It's a change that really needed to happen for me to be able to spend more time with my family, and my gardens (personal and community.)

These things are just a snapshot. There are more extremes but they are far too personal to write about here. I feel more guarded than I used to about what I write on this blog. A side effect of the events of 2009.

This year gardening has not provided me the peace and solitude that it usually does. It has basically dragged me along kicking and screaming. I've walked over tomatoes that fell in my path from lack of support. I hear them crunching beneath my feet and my mind waffles between the dread of the million volunteers I'm liable to have next year and wishing that I even gave a shit. It hasn't been fun. And the other morning when I looked out the window to see the first frost on my weedy backyard grass, I thought about the ripe eggplants and tomatoes still on the vine but all I could think was, thank God it's over.

It may seem like it, but I'm not sitting over here having a pity party. Outwardly I'm totally holding it together. I just don't have much inspiration to write, or grow these days. And it shows in my blogging. I'm ready to put this season, and all its extreme highs and lows to bed.