These are my plants. Or most of them anyway. I crammed them onto a shelf one morning a few weeks ago in an effort to give them all a little extra dose of sunlight. My geranium, which has been steadily hanging on since April, was beginning to look a little droopy and I was worried she might have caught a cold in our ice box of a bathroom. Twenty minutes or so on the radiator would do a world of good, I figured, and so I took her down from her perch above the bathroom mirror and snuggled her against the paperwhite bottles.
These plants are the only living things in this world that depend on me for their daily well-being. Our apartment’s too tiny for even the smallest goldfish and I’m fairly certain that my husband’s diet would actually improve if tomorrow I suddenly vanished. But these plants, they need me. The paperwhites, I’ll admit, only barely. They aren’t cut out for long-term relationships. They grow up fast and bloom with fanfare, but they’re gone before they’ve hardly begun. Last week there was a casualty when one collided with the aformentioned radiator. I came down our ladder-stairs in the morning to find the singed remains of a particularly beautiful specimen. Perhaps an extra adjustment the night before would have been more prudent, but I had gone to bed without checking in and in the night the poor bulb was jettisoned from its bottle. I picked at the pieces of leaf that had burned onto the radiator, and completed a quick burial, sans ceremony.
Two weeks ago my big sister became the mother of an actual human being. There were warning signs, of course: the months of pregnancy, the addition of a wooden cradle to her apartment, the ever-expanding belly. But all of that was hardly preparation for the sudden arrival of a pink and squirmy and incredibly alive little person. Poof, a human being with a tiny beating heart and two tiny expanding lungs and all of those many fingers and toes out in the wide world alongside us. I won’t pretend to understand what it must be like to be a mother, but I can say that this wilty geranium, feisty paperwhite-owning aunt is awestruck, already.