I've often heard the phrase 'working through emotions'. It's such a bizarre concept to me. How does one work at feeling emotions? But stuck in apathy and lethargy, bordering on the edge of a very dark place, I knew I had to try something different. Going back to the normal routine of life wouldn't work. There would be no 'throwing myself into my work.' Besides, I have no school, no visits to MD Anderson, no nothing. And I'm not about to find the motivation to engage the mundane aspects of life like going to the grocery or cleaning (shudder). I needed to give some physical embodiement to my emotion. But not just anything. It had to have some meaning and symbol behind it. Some sweat and tears along with just a little bit of blood would probably aid the process.
Some of my wife's coworkers graciously offered to buy us a plant to remember my brother. Yeah, that sounds right. Good idea. We both loved our gardens. We were as different as night and day but that is one thing I, along with my dad, helped to get my brother hooked on. If it's going to be in memory of him, it better be a plant that lasts. That meant a tree. My soil is awful and compacted. It better be an indestructible tree. I've got it. In the front yard of my brother and sister-in-law's house (I don't know if I'll ever be able to call it just her house) is a beautiful crape myrtle called 'Natchez'. White fragrant flowers with a cinammon colored trunk, it's a bullet-proof tree and an icon of the south.
It took visits to 4 different nurseries but I finally found a good specimen. That's ok, because I wasn't in a hurry. I had all day. Besides, I was working on grief as much as planting a tree. It doesn't look like much now but soon it will grow into a beautiful tree (you can see the bark of some down at MDACC here). My garden was in a complete state of disarray since A) we've been in a severe drought and B) I've hardly been around to tend to it. So I sweated plenty in the Houston sun, cried when I moved the crape that was originally there that had a memory associated with my dad (another long story) and replaced it with the one for my brother, and bled when I pruned some nearby roses. Grief work, I get it now.