Change and Loss

Mother of Robin Botie with dieffenbachia plant that is experiencing change and lossThe first thing I did in Massachusetts, after emptying the car of my mother and her bags, was to put the dieffenbachia plant back on her porch. The plant had spent the winter on my dining room table in New York while my mother spent the winter in Florida.
How long do houseplants live, I wondered? I’d been bringing this dieffenbachia back and forth to my mother’s summer home every May and October for four years. Since the year my daughter lost her fight with cancer and I couldn’t bear to let anything else die.

“Cheers!” my mother and sister and I toasted once we were all assembled. “To another great summer,” we said, clinking glasses. I knew I was not the only one thinking it might be our last at October Mountain.
Things were changing. The packing and traveling each season were becoming difficult for my mother. Many of her friends were no longer there. One by one over the past years, the playing golf, barbequing on the deck, driving to nighttime theater, … had stopped. And now the cozy summer home would be put up for sale.
It didn’t seem possible that we would not keep returning summer after summer. Even as we settled into the familiar routine of opening up the house, I felt the loss.

I’ve learned loss is not only about losing a loved one. Loss can be losing a place you are rooted to, or a lifestyle. A friend of ours lost her mind; another lost her mobility. My sister has to give up the work she loves. I fight hard not to lose my dream. We all know loss. Dealing with it demands all the things we think we don’t have, like strength, faith, patience, creativity. It takes courage to let go of what you love but can’t keep. Sometimes all you can do is look to what’s next. For better or for worse, something’s always next.

“Cheers,” I say. Here’s to the mountains that greened up over the weekend, to the spider that weaves web masterpieces in the lawn, to exquisite meals at Chez Nous Bistro, to the old dieffenbachia. A toast to being able to get up and down stairs, to the West Massachusetts skies filled with bright stars, to family. To health and happiness.
Here’s to another summer.
To all of us. To what’s next.

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8 thoughts on “Change and Loss

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I remember that plant, Robin, and the way you carry it back and forth to keep it alive. Another huge change coming with the summer place for sale and a big loss for your mom and your family. Yes, place. I know it will be a challenge when I decide to leave mine. Hard to swallow the constant dissolving of this life, so let’s have a toast to impermanence and put on some dance music. Thanks for this lovely piece.

    Reply
    1. robinbotie.com

      This time it was really tough leaving that plant. Leaving the plant, the place, … you said it. Huge changes, loss, hard-to-swallow changes. Cheers, yes. Thanks for being “out there” for me.

      Reply
  2. Annette Corth

    Robin, you did it again! What a wonderful piece, sad and wistful but also upbeat and optimistic. And the photo of your mother is a masterpiece! I can hardly wait for the next eample of your fine writing.

    Annette Corth

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Thank you, Annette. What a compliment. Maybe the next one will be a happy piece, one with you in it. Thank you for reading my manuscript this weekend. Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Kirsten Wasson

    This reads so beautifully…it’s rhythm like a Massachusetts summer breeze. Organic, soft, then sharp. There is loss and there is what’s next. Hard to look away from the photo of your elegant and contemplative mother with the dieffenbachia bursting in front of and behind her.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Many thanks, Kirsten. And thanks for the entertainment at the carwash last week.

      Reply

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