Today I returned from vacation to my NYC apartment and found my plant had died. My plant wasn’t just any ordinary plant. It was a big green plant that came from Nick Gates, my boyfriend of two years, who passed away on October 24, 2017. It’s been 8 months, and I still have moments where I sob and sob over him. Just wishing I could say one more thing to him or hear his voice.
Nick doing what he loved. Being outdoors.
When I had arrived to help clear out Nick’s apartment, I took a moment in Nick’s room alone to cry. I cried and cried. I remember screaming, “NO, NO, NO” at his pillow and punching it. I screamed into his pillow, soaking his bed with tears. I looked out the window and at the sky, searching for his face to appear in the clouds. I walked around his room taking in his scent and his smell. Sitting on the edge of his bed, I looked at his bed sheets, remembering when we went into Bed Bath & Beyond to pick them out. It was an easy choice, blue and white striped duvet cover and matching shams. A picture of us from Hawaii was in his top sock drawer. The green plant was something Nick had chosen by himself, but I remember how excited he was to get his first. And his new art he chose, a La Baule Bretagne, la Plage du Soleil, in a large frame hung above his bed. The plant was to go in front of the window next to his pillow where he slept and could easily feed it every other day. Right there sitting on his bed, I noticed how sad and tired the plant looked. It hadn’t been fed in awhile. Immediately, I knew I wanted to take that plant to my new apartment. Nick would’ve wanted me to have it.
The plant became something I was responsible for in the next following weeks and months, to help grow it, give it life. To have something living like that that came from Nick has given me so much joy over the past 8 months. As the plant started getting more water, it started growing and becoming more green everyday. I felt proud of myself and thought that this plant had Nick living on with it. I loved feeding it like it was my very own beloved. It gave me a lot of comfort over this extremely hard period.
So now, here I am, in mid June, 2018. Many people say it can take anywhere from 2-5 years to get over a loss. Many say you will never really get over it but he will live on with you into your next chapter. Regardless, of which I really believe, I know right now I don’t want to forget Nick, but I didn’t feel sad when I came home today to find the beautiful plant was dying.
These past few days in Wilmington, North Carolina, I was with a good friend who held a lot of memories I had with Nick. She worked with me at my previous job and heard stories everyday about things Nick and I did together on weekends or after work. My friend was also included in many concerts, dinner parties and excursions Nick and I went on together. She knew Nick. It was a special trip because I was able to share many of these important moments leading up to Nick’s death with her and she would never possibly judge, but just reminisced and reminded me of little details about him that I had forgotten about.
The trip, in a way, felt like a beautiful closure to something I know I have been holding onto for a long time. I don’t think I will ever be okay or content with the fact that Nick is no longer with us. Nick was not only the most exceptionally kind and loving soul that I have ever met, but he was also the most talented. He had so much to offer, so much advice to give, and such an exuberant personality that was contagious.
Together photographed in Maui, Hawaii
My New York apartment won’t ever have that life to it again that I know I got directly from Nick’s plant. But I feel okay. This is a turning point, a start in mid summer, to shut the door on that and to set out on a new chapter. To take a step forward and continue practicing the things that are most important to me: to remember how important it is to be very kind to people, to fill my life with positive people who lift me up and to get rid of the people who are negative and pull me down. No one should be okay with someone treating them poorly. At the age of 27, I want to keep mindful and take the good parts of Nick with me for the long ride. It’s important to listen to others, to stick to your own personal values, and to avoid conflict if you can because arguing is never fun for anyone. Life is too short to have it or start it, and if that means distancing yourself from people who start it, then that is worth it. Life is a very, very fragile thing. Maya Angelou advises well, “As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
So, I’m throwing away the dead plant today. I am closing the door on things that pull me down. I am opening the door to a new chapter and to living my best life. To learning and filling myself up with goodness and positivity. To giving so much love, laughter and support to those that mean the world to me. But most importantly, to take this next chapter by the horns and to practice self-care, self-love, and self-reflection.