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Wild & Dangerous

Twenty months ago, I bought a violet to mark the first month of our adoption journey. And what a journey it has been. There have been thoughtful plants that I have poured over in the aisles of our local garden store. One that we bought in California and brought inside hotels to keep it warm on our 20+ hour road trip. We have two plants gifted to us from clippings, and I carefully monitored them, breathless, until they produced new buds. We have plants that have been gifted to us, fancy plants and grocery store plants.

But then, there are the ones that haven’t survived. That very first violet died tragically, snapped off at its fragile neck while I pruned it. A few had beautiful flowers but then never grew again. Right now, there are no less than three plants that look limp and yellow and scraggly.

We stopped buying plants when we got matched. And when our adoption was disrupted, I consciously decided not to start again. Aside from a lovely plant left on the front porch by friends, I just couldn’t add to our menagerie.

The plants were supposed to represent growth in the waiting. But now, where our hope had once flourished, it just felt dry and rootless.

That’s why I was so surprised on Saturday when I looked at Mike and said “I think we need to buy a plant.”

I can’t explain what prompted it, but I felt like we needed to bring something living into our home. Something that reminded us what it felt like all those months ago.

We roamed the aisle of our favorite garden store, and there we spotted a plant unlike any I had ever seen. It was a strange mix of flowers and spindly branches. It wasn’t pretty or neatly shaped. In a word, it felt wild.

I quickly looked it up on my phone to make sure it wasn’t too finicky, and I saw, in bold letters, TOXIC. And I laughed out loud.

In my hands, I held a plant that was both wild and dangerous. It was perfect. Because right now, as we grieve the loss of an adoption, as we try to keep moving forward, hope feels wild and dangerous.

Wild and dangerous. It’s interesting to me that those two words can be used to describe something exhilarating as well as something excruciating. Skydiving is wild and dangerous. But so is a car spinning on the ice. Traveling to an exotic land is wild and dangerous. As is a bear stumbling onto a trail near a group of hikers.

Twenty months ago, hope felt exhilarating. Getting a match was scary in the best possible way. But when the bottom fell out, exhilaration turned into a terrifying free fall. Scary turned into crushed.

But that plant, with its sinewy arms and its delicate flowers is a symbol that we are clinging to hope. A hope that leaves us exposed and vulnerable. That feels toxic and untamed. When I look at our new plant, I feel a tightness in my chest. Roots wrapped around a tender spot.

Protecting. Growing. Wild. Dangerous.


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