June 15, 2009

The Structure of Roots

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:48 pm by letterstoelias

Hi my Love,

I was working in the garden a bit today – yes, I was working in the garden.  Ok, stop laughing.  Enough!  Anyhow, I know how much you loved working in the garden, especially at this time of year.  I saw the pears starting to grow, the apples, grapes, quince, and countless flowers ready to blossom. 

So many things you planted and nurtured that you won’t get the chance to see this year, or ever.  The strawberries are starting to turn red and I picked some lettuce for our dinner tonight.  I thought as I ate it of how you had a hand in our dinner in some way – it was sad and comforting at the same time.  I’ll keep up as much as I can in the garden, but I have so much to learn.  And fears to get over; though I am gradually getting over some of those.  I’m not as afraid to go near the compost or in the sheds – but I was a little surprised by a small frog in the back shed today.  At least it wasn’t a rat.  I still danced around trying to brush a spider off me (and pictured you laughing at me as I did so) and duck and run around certain flying insects, but all in all I’m getting more comfortable.

I was working on taking out a plant.  I’m not sure if it was a plant or a weed, actually, but I think it may have been the latter.  I took the shears ? (like big scissors) out and cut off all the stems at the base.  There were many, but they all came down easily.  Then, I started working on digging out the roots.  The roots were widespread, thick and strong.  I had to keep digging and digging, deeper and wider to try and get them all out.  As I was doing so a thought came to mind.  The most beautiful flowers can be cut with the greatest of ease.  Even the strongest trees are no match for a chainsaw.  But once you start going after the roots, that’s where the true strength lies.  The structure of the roots is interesting as well – starting off with one or two larger roots, branching out to a few slightly smaller ones, then even more, smaller than those and so on.  This knowledge is nothing new to me but it got me thinking.

Cancer attacks a human body.  It will work at destroying that body until the body has no strength left to withstand the attack.  Just as a chainsaw will cut away at a giant cedar.  But what is at the roots of a human?  A spirit.  A soul.  Aside from this there is family.  Friends.  Community.  These are the roots that continue to hold that body strong, continue to hold it up while the cancer attacks.  I thought of the structure of the roots – the larger roots as the human spirit, supporting these are family, then friends, then down to the countless community members near and far, some of those you might never even meet in person, but all there to support.  And even after the body falls to the attack of cancer, the spirit remains.  Strong as ever.  We were so fortunate to have had such an amazing root structure with our family, friends and community, and I am fortunate to still have that with me today.  And I continue to draw strength from you as well.  You are still in my roots, and always will be.  I’ve said it before and I still believe that you don’t know your own personal strength until you are forced to use it.  When you were forced, you showed more strength than I ever dreamed possible – maybe even more than you dreamed.  I also feel that I have found strength I never imagined I had, and as I kept digging out the roots of that plant today, finding more and more, I knew that there would be more buried deep within me to draw on when needed.  And I know I will need to – every day.  But I will find the strength I need.

All this aside, as I worked on that plant I was still initially determined to get out all the roots – but eventually decided to leave well enough alone and bury the rest.  As such, that plant may come back one day and if it does, I will smile.  Then probably try to get rid of it again.  As I said, there is much to learn about gardening, but I think the most valuable lesson I learned today – is the power of a good pair of gardening gloves!  As always, we still have to find ways to laugh.  Though I know if I showed you my blisters you would just show me your heavily scarred hands in return.  I figured you also had to be laughing at my various eccentric gardening techniques, but I think it will come in time.

You would also be proud that I managed to get into bed at a decent time last night – by some form of miracle I found myself in bed at 10pm.  The prior few nights I was sorely lacking sleep and found myself drifting on the couch early so I did the smart thing and went straight to bed.  I’ve found my patience is shorter with the girls if I haven’t gotten enough sleep, so I’m working on fixing that.  I also have found I should write my letters to you earlier in the evening as sometimes when I wake up the next day I can’t for the life of me even remember what I wrote about and when I go back and read it I have to laugh a little at myself.  At 1am I think I’m clearly expressing myself, but I think some things I write may get lost in translation a little.  The overall lack of sleep lately hasn’t helped matters much either.

Buz and Sian have been amazing friends – so helpful with the girls and incredibly supportive.  I so wish that you would have had more time to get to know them, and them you.  I had a call from your past student Joel today.  He only just found out recently and was so saddened by the news.  We had a nice chat though and I told him to feel free to keep in touch.  I know he meant a lot to you, and you meant a great deal to him as well – he said you taught him so much about cooking, but about life as well.  I have heard that from many students.  I know you always loved reading the guestbook postings on the caring bridge site, but when a student posted that always got you the most.  You would have been amazed by the wall to wall scrolls I have of messages from students, and a facebook page was also made in your honour.  I know you weren’t a big fan of facebook, but I’m sure you would approve in this case.  I also spoke with Nate the other day – he hadn’t yet heard the news and was taken aback, and extremely saddened.  We spoke for quite some time – he had many thoughtful and kind things to say, and he will share the news with many of the other’s you worked with ‘back in the day’.

I am also more than THRILLED to tell you that Steph at the Blackfish Pub told my dad that they are going to create a bursary in your name for an Elphi student wishing to go into culinary arts!  As I understand it, it won’t just be for this year either, but done annually.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about what a beautiful way it is to honour you and your memory.  Yet another sign of the people you touched and how much you were loved – not just by me.  I can’t even begin to express how much it means to me, and I know you would feel the same.

I thought about writing more, but maybe I’ll leave on a bit of a high note tonight with the news about the bursary and such.  Though I can’t get away without expressing yet again how terribly I miss you.  As the girls and I were talking to you before bed tonight – E started out with saying ‘Hi Daddy’, as usual, but said it a couple of times, and C said ‘Hi’ too as she usually does, but then sat up from nursing and looked around, almost as if she actually thought this time she might see you.  E also ended with ‘I love you Daddy’ as usual, but she repeated it so many times it almost sounded like she was waiting for a reply.  As sad as that may sound (and in many ways it was), it almost did feel like you were there in the room with us.

All my love,


P.S. I Love you



  1. Bridie said,

    What a beautiful post, Chels.

    I started gardening in earnest this year. Like you, I’m very much a novice (though not afraid at all of the little friends found there–rodents being the exception, but we have none here…), but find myself thinking of and inspired by Elias as I putter my way around the yard. I think about telling him about my new little shade garden and I know he would have suggestions and questions and would be genuinely interested in the plans I was making. And, I know that he would be SO proud of you for getting put and trying to preserve and nurture the plants he loved so much. It’s a wonderful tribute.

  2. […] Yesterday was a pretty peaceful day – the girls are enjoying the trampoline so much.  I was able to do some gardening the other morning while they played around on it.  Dug up some more roots and thought this photo would go well with my other letter to you about the structure of roots.  […]

  3. ashlyn said,

    lovely way of saying it… the roots part, i mean… remember that always.. u will always have him in ur heart.. the roots are strong…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: