• Candyce Lucien Rusk

Grief and the Century plant.

Out of nowhere, a pale yellow, flowering stalk began growing out of the Agave americana in the side yard, and is now 10 feet tall. This agave happens to be a repeat bloomer, the last stalk, which resembles a candelabrum, rose in 2010 or so. The bees and hummingbirds are dizzy, pollentating up and down the spine, and a soft buzz-song can be heard. Surprising, as Texas continues to have it's biblically strange weather patterns, notably the 2021 February freeze, which ice-stapled beloved trees and plants onto the cold earth. Now we're caught in a rain cycle, making for overcast, coolish weather, accompanied by blinding lightning, thunder and teacup sized hail. Overall, the storms are unpredictable, as is the gift of the agave bloom.


As unpredictable, I would say, as the cycles of grief.


Within the past 18 months, I've lost my mother, Helen, my beloved one-eyed cat ZoZo, and a once significant reproductive organ. I handled each rationally, that is, employing self-care, acknowledging the empty space, sinking into varying degrees of physical and emotional pain, then moving on until the next grief bloom. Which surely comes at unexpected moments. A scent in the air, cans of cat food in a drawer, the finding of an old ring.


About 30 years ago, master guide Eon said that grief, the most powerful and transformational emotions, was not getting the attention from humans that God hoped it would. Shocked that God would be concerned about the expression, I took the practice and exploration of grief into my heart. One distinction between sadness and true grief is the energy one feels when expressing it. Sadness creates a hopeless depression. Grief, a blazing, empowering energy, making us more clear and aware in the hours of our lives. The winter sea of the Cape Cod, with it's noble rage and unapologetic freedom, became a guidepost to grief expression then.


But I'm long off the Cape, and look now to the century plant in my yard in Austin as a symbol of processing and immersing in grief cycle. The plant and it's stalk, known to begin its decline right after her perfect bloom, creates dozens of pups which can be propagated. And so life blossoms, fades, leaving traces of existence.


The grief cycle is a natural companion which can come about swiftly and is deeply bittersweet. While an honor to acknowledge, distinguishing between the freeze of sadness and the freedom of a rare bloom, the mastery of grief make itself take centuries.




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