Earlier today I noticed my ficus, Fifi, was still droopy, so I watered her. It was all I could do. It must have been about a week since she began to wilt. I’ve done everything I could think of. I moved her to a spot with more light but that only made her shed more. I began watering her twice a day, up from once. I even bought some really nice plant food and poured the whole bag into her pot. I am at a total loss for what to do as I sit next to her stroking her few remaining leaves, blowing carbon dioxide I made from my lungs onto her leaves in breathy “I love you”s and “please, don’t leave me”s.
Tricia and I bought Fifi on a whim from a booth at the local farmers market on sunny Sunday when we first leased this apartment. I thought it was a silly purchase but it made her happy. “It’ll bring the place some life, Nate.” She told me as she handed me the pot to carry to the car. “You’ll see, we’ll take care of it together. It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself. We’ll call her Fifi.”
“Her? How do you know it’s not a boy?” I asked as I adjusted the pot in my hands so as not to drop it and a large chunk of soil tipped out down the front of my white t-shirt. I laughed and so did she.
I guess to her it was more than a plant it was a symbol of our love, our life together. Over the next few years we kept the plant in the same spot, a few feet from the small window in our shared bedroom. She would water it everyday before she went to work, caress it’s leaves and whisper something before turning to me caressing my hair, whispering, “I love you,” and kissing me goodbye.
The plant grew and shed leaves all around it’s base. I’d pick them up before she came home, begrudgingly. “‘It’ll be like having a kid that doesn’t shit all over itself,’” I’d say in a mocking her. Every so often during her morning ritual I’d poke fun at her for loving the plant more than me. She’d raise her eyebrow, put her hands on her hips and affect a mock indignant tone then she’d give me a little more than a kiss.
It was beautiful, and happy, and light, and it was some of the best times I ever had. Then seemingly out of the blue Tricia became tired. She would still wake up water the plant whisper to it and kiss me but it was more like soap actor going through the motions than my beautiful, passionate Tricia.
As time wore on she would stay in bed more often, slowly neglecting her morning ritual more and more. She said it was nothing and she’d be better the next day. She’d say the same thing the next day and the next and the next until I finally forced her to the doctors. He said it was cancer. He said it was much too late to do anything about it, it had already spread to most of her organs. It was a matter of days he told me. All they could do was to make her comfortable.
She was admitted to the hospital. I made them let me bring Fifi into the room with her. Everyday I would go to her. I’d water the plant, stroke it, and breathe, “I love you,” onto it’s leaves. Then I’d cross the room and sit in the chair next to her bed. I would hold her hand, stroke her lank, greasy hair, and whisper “I love you, please don’t leave me,” in her ear. I would do this every day, every day until she mustered her last bit of energy and rattled, “I love you, Nate, I’m sorry. Please, take care of Fifi for me.”