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  • Emily Gold

A Rescue and Loss


I'm happy to see that my little rabbit's foot fern is thriving with proper water and sun in my bathroom. The new furry frond is a welcome sign of life. There's something very uncomplicated about caring for plants (and animals, for that matter). If you give them the right conditions, they want to live. That is their instinct.

This plant rescue has felt all the more poignant since the death of my second cousin a few weeks ago. Justin was 38 years old and lived in San Diego with his wife and two daughters. He had been dealing with addiction for many years and had just gotten out of rehab again. So many people wanted him to live, tried to give him the right conditions, the right nourishment, the right encouragement. It was devastating that this wasn't enough.

The last time I saw him was nearly ten years ago. I was out in San Diego for a work trip and we met up for dinner. He told me how he had just met the woman who would become his wife. She was Belgian, and he was asking for advice on whether he should pursue her, despite the prospect of a long distance romance. I assured him that she sounded worth it, seeing the way his face lit up as he talked about her. He was so full of hope and possibility. He had an incredibly broad and infectious smile that invited others to smile along with him.

I have a hard time reconciling this memory of him against what happened. Where hope was lost, and his family is left unmoored by tragedy. Where there's nothing I can do to ease the hurt except care for this plant. Give it the right conditions to grow. Remember Justin's beautiful spirit as I do so.


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