Sometimes the answer is goodbye

The year we moved to Oakville was a difficult one. We were busy with our fourth baby and I was beginning ministry in a new place. I had never changed churches before, and was unprepared for how traumatic it would be. I knew about joining a new community, working hard to learn several hundred names and a whole new set of traditions. This time, however, I not only was beginning a new adventure, but saying goodbye to old friends, too.

Yes, that first year or so were a challenge and that left me in need of comfort. Our house and yard were both a mess, thanks to the (ahem) rather unusual previous owners. We spent a huge amount of time simply making the house and garden clean and functional. That meant removing old furniture, having wiring repaired, disposing of an old pond and moving the shed that had a family of skunks living underneath it.

The first things I planted were three shrubs: two forsythia and a deep pink wigelia (weigela). I don’t remember now if I did it consciously or not, but I chose them and laid them out exactly as they had been in our previous home in Strathroy. I think that I was seeking a sense of home and continuity. I needed something to be familiar in that year when everything seemed to be choatic and new.

Sadly, my emotional planting hardly resulted in good design or wise gardening. The forsythias, now well established, create a strange bookend effect although I do love their spring brilliance. And the poor wigelia never seemed quite right. It tried to fit in, and I tried to enjoy it, but somehow it always stayed scraggley and small and uncomfortable-looking. Even its blooms didn’t redeem it, being timid and short-lived.

This year, it was time to say goodbye. Nine years after the move, we have established a sense of home. Our lives are still busy but less frantic, and the house and garden have been repaired and redecorated. I don’t need the same sense of comfort anymore and my poor little wigelia needed to be set free.

Thankfully, my friend M. visited and said he would be only too happy to help. He had just the spot for that scruffy shrub, he said. So Emily helped me dig it out and bundle up the roots. We loaded it into the van and drove it to his place. I know my friend will be happy in her new place.

As I delivered my wigelia, I reflected on the fact that sometimes we need things for comfort. And sometimes we outgrow those things we used to need. Children outgrow blankies and stuffed animals and soothers. Adults outgrow bad habits or destructive relationships. Sometimes people move into and out of our lives as circumstances change.

There is a hint of melancholy in the air now, as some pretty perennial geraniums are blooming where my old wigelia used to be. Yet I can’t help thinking that goodbye isn’t always bad. It is a good sign that I was ready to release my little wigelia. And she is off finding a new place to put down roots herself.

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