The photo at the top here was taken of the front of my house the day my family moved in. To the side of the front door you see a large shrubbery. Four of them, actually, which were encouraged to grow together into a large cube shape. In the photo, it looks quite a bit overwhelming. I have been trimming it for almost three years as best I could. The first 18 months I did an ok job, but the second 18… well, it was less than an ok job. A formerly overwhelming growth became oppressive. It was an angry shrubbery, and I started to hate it. It represented so much anger to me, and I just couldn’t look at it.
Yesterday, Husband and I went crazy on the garden area and planted some lovely perennials. We then trimmed the giant shrubbery. I say we, but he really did that work while I sat and told him it was crooked and he tolerated me. As we were falling asleep last night he said, “You know what would be cool? If we didn’t have the shrub and we could plant something else there or put in a palate and place planters on it or something. That would be cool some time.”
Now, I told you that I sort of let this shrubbery go for a long time. I didn’t mean to. I mean, I tried. Seriously. But the muscles I needed to keep it in check have just not been up to par lately. All that cutting into them and taking out chunks really caught up with me. Ha ha. But when I woke up this morning, I had decided that it was time to beat the hell out of this plant. So I did.
I attacked the poor thing. I cut each branch with relish. Every time I took one out of the cube it had once been, I felt a little victory, a little of my chest regaining its strength. I felt my heart becoming more and more emboldened by my razing this metaphor for my emotional health to he ground.
You’re probably tired of reading about my cancer and what it’s done to me. Believe me, I’m even more tired of thinking about it. Unfortunately, you don’t go through something like cancer without it changing your perspective and it turns out that I cannot go through cancer without it being a part of all of my psyche. That damn shrubbery represented so many “can’t”s from the last 18 months and I had had it. I sweat more in the next hour of cutting than I have in my life. It all mixed with tears and swears. Daughter came out with me and she could see things happening, too, as she helped pull away the newly cut branches. There was a change in me. I could literally breathe easier when I had finished with that greenery. I stopped and had to go to the hardware store for bigger equipment and came back and did it all again. I lifted, threw, and dumped 160 pounds of top soil onto it when I was done cutting.
One hundred. Sixty. Pounds.
By. My. Self.
I made progress on my house today. It looks beautiful and sharp and welcoming.
I made progress on my heart today. It is more beautiful and sharp and welcoming.
The dog in the first photo has been gone from me for 51 weeks and 5 days. I still miss her every day.
One thought on “Bring us…. a Shrubbery!”
Yay! I’m thrilled to hear this story. My only other comment is that the part about us all not wanting to hear about cancer is really kind of bizarre. Why on earth would I read your blog if I didn’t want to hear about your life? I can totally believe that you are tired of talking about it, but I 100% want to hear about how you are doing, and cancer is part of that. If you think that people are tired of hearing about cancer, imagine how tired they must be hearing about my life. I’ve been sick for 15 years, and I will _never_ recover. I will spend the rest of my life struggling, and there is little chance that it will ever be over. However, when I speak to friends and family, I can see that they are interested in my life and my struggles. If anything, it is all the ups and downs of our lives that make them interesting and give us a feeling of closeness. If I only hear about a great vacation that my friend took, do I know what that person’s life is like? Not really. If I call that friend up and say, “How are you doing? Did you go to see the doctor about that spot of your thigh? Did your daughter get that paper turned in on time? Is your dog still sick?”, chances are I feel a lot closer to my friend. You have value even if you have difficulties. Your difficulties aren’t trivial, and they matter to those who care about you. While it is fantastic to hear that you are doing well, you aren’t required to always be happy or moving forward. So, please, talk about cancer if it is on your mind.