Saturday, October 21, 2023

Tomatoes and blessings

Once again, a Facebook “Memory” struck a chord with me. It’s certainly the first time that’s happened, and it won’t be the last. More and more, though, these “Memory” reminders make me realise or understand something, where they only used to make me sad. This is a good development.

This past Monday, I posted “Time shift” , a post about how a FB “Memory” made me realise how my perceptions of time have changed over the past four years. That “Memory” made me reflective rather than emotional. The previous Thursday, I published ”Furbabies have magical powers”, and that post was more emotional for me—though it carried some reflection, too. Today’s FB “Memory” made me reflective about emotional memories.

The photo up top is one I shared on my personal Facebook on this date in 2018—five years ago today (as is usually the case, I posted to Instagram, and it was automatically shared to my Facebook; the photo above is the original for both). As I said about the “Memory today on my personal Facebook:
This particular Facebook “Memory” would stick in my mind regardless of the fact it was our last Labour Weekend together—and it was a good one! We went to Mitre 10 Mega (in Takanini or Pukekohe—I forget which, and I think Nigel’s mum was staying with us) and had some lunch at the Columbus Coffee in store. Then, Nigel and I chose the plants and the cages and went home.
I’d prepared the beds for planting, as I always did, and that included clearing out what was left of the dead plants from the previous season’s crop. And in the photo it’s possible to see some scraps on the lawn. Then, we planted the tomato plants, and all of that was standard for us.

Those plants didn’t produce the most tomatoes all at once (the plants I grew from salvaged seed the year before produced more at first), however, these plants produced fresh tomatoes into winter, and finally stopped less than three months before Nigel died. We never got to plant any in 2019.

The thing is, as I’ve often said since then, I was absolutely certain that if Nigel had never had that damn cancer, he’d have been even bigger into vegetable gardening in later years, especially because he really enjoyed the harvesting (it meshed with his dream of us living as self-sustainably as possible). The photo at the bottom of this post is of Nigel harvesting the previous year’s crop on April 7, 2018 (I took it from the deck above, but I don't think he knew I'd done that).

At that time, too, I also saw that he was becoming more willing to do the physical work, and not leave it all to me, so I could clearly see a future in which we’d work together on it—especially if he got to use power tools, like a tiller or something, but raise that probability exponentially if there was technology involved, because he absolutely would’ve found some to use. For example, something like a watering system controlled by an app: I can clearly imagine us getting together with family, and him pulling out his phone (especially if his brother was there…) and saying, “sorry, I just had to water the garden,” smiling with that cheeky grin of his.

So, when I see a memory like this, I don’t mainly think just about what I—what we all—lost when Nigel died, and it’s not just about what, in 2018, seemed like our certain future that never was. What I actually think about is how great this particular memory is, because it was so typical of the thousands of awesome times we had together (and yes, that’s including how we always got scratchy with each other when we worked on projects together). The other, bigger, thing I think about, though, is how amazingly lucky I am to I have all those wonderful memories of our life together; not everyone is as fortunate, for whatever reason. I wish they were.

I think about and miss Nigel every single day, but what’s changed is that the memories that once made me feel sad, or that fuelled the fires of my pain, those same memories are now like a warm, fluffy blanket I can wrap up in whenever I need it the most, including when I’m sad. Whenever I miss Nigel’s hugs the most, those memories take his place. It’s not the same at all, obviously, but the way they can make me feel is a reasonable substitute.

Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but I’ve learned that good memories can at least soothe the wounds. It turns out, his memory really is a blessing. A Facebook "Memory" made me think of all that today.

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