After the miscarriage mom came out for a few days to be with me. Cameron was out to sea. She coddled me, bought us fine wine to share, and made all of my favorite childhood foods. Among these dishes was what we lovingly call Mommy Pasta. It’s a simple pasta with red sauce that tastes divine. I’ve never been able to replicate it.
In order to make it she needed fresh basil. I picked the only fresh basil I could find at the store. It was the living kind that still had roots attached. After my mom was done cooking she cut the top off a soda can and put the remaining live basil in it with a little water.
The basil sat there on my kitchen counter for a few days, even after mom flew home. I didn’t know what to do with it. I’ve never had a green thumb, but I couldn’t throw it away.
I found an old small pot that a friend had painted to say “Julie” in middle school that I’d used as a pencil holder off and on over the years. I bought the smallest bag of potting mix I could find and transplanted the basil to its new home.
Some of it died, but not all. Sometimes I’d forget to water it and the basil would wilt in dehydration, but it always perked back up with a little feeding.
We moved houses and the basil came with us. Cameron returned from sea. I repotted the basil in an even bigger planter and started growing other fresh herbs. Cameron uses them to cook. The basil is thriving. It’s huge and expanding with large fragrant leaves.
The one thing mom said when she found out I’d planted the basil was to never let it flower. If I saw a shoot of flowers start I needed to pinch it off immediately, otherwise the plant would die, its lifecycle complete.
For months I was vigilant. I watched the tiny herb grow but not flower. It didn’t seem like it would happen.
Then recently, I saw its first tiny bloom. It’s been about five months since the miscarriage. I know a few women with due dates similar to what mine would have been and I can see their growing bumps and know about how big I’d be by now.
I plucked the budding flower and dropped it in the grass.
The next day there was another bud. I plucked that too. Now it’s almost daily that I’ll find one or two floral shoots and I pluck every one.
So now I have this basil that I can only keep alive by preventing its bloom. It’s constantly trying to blossom, and I keep pinching it back. It seems so desperate to flower, to move to its next stage, even if that stage is moving on entirely.
I think sometimes about letting it flower. Letting it move through the natural lifecycle progression. I may. Basil isn’t hard to grow, and I could always start another plant. But I guess I’m just not ready yet. Maybe I never will be.