What a funny word, carrot. I never know how to spell it. I always have to play around with the r and t and see how many of them look right.
When my husband left me many years ago, I was devastated and wanted to run away. We had built a big house together and cared for it together. We had raised our children there and two of them were still in high school. I had a big garden and created a yard that required a lot of maintenance. I felt I couldn’t handle it all by myself as well as work enough to support my family and get my kids through college. All I could think about was bolting and never facing the new life I needed to build on my own. I loved my house. I loved my garden. But at that time, when I looked around (through continual tears) all I saw was a ton of work I felt I couldn’t do by myself.
I was crying all the time, and my friends, bless them, would listen for hours on end. One of them, a carpenter and builder, told me there was no job in that house that I couldn’t learn to do myself. I didn’t believe it right away, but he patiently taught me how to fix, renovate, and maintain just about everything. Angel, he was. But I still felt like running away. I had been handed all the responsibility and I didn’t want it anymore. The house was too big for just me and two of the kids. When they left, I thought it would be ridiculous to be there alone.
It was September when the final blow came and he said he wasn’t coming back. It was the month I had always loved the most. We had been married in September. I loved the change in the air. I loved harvesting my vegetables, canning, and getting ready to tuck in for winter. That year, unable to face my sadness, I had fantasies of getting in my car and just driving without a destination. Never coming back. My kids kept me from doing that. It was bad enough that they lost their father and the family as they knew it, I couldn’t have them lose me, too. And though sometimes I thought they’d be better off without the basket-case of a mother they now had, I still retained a shred of sanity (thank god) and put one foot in front of the other. I felt I couldn’t make a sound decision. I didn’t know what to do.
So I focused on tasks. I tried not to think too far ahead (I think someone told me to do that) and would talk to myself like this: “Pick up the toothbrush. Put toothpaste on it. Open your mouth. Brush your teeth.” Stuff like that. It was exhausting. One day I went into the garden, a place I usually felt completely grounded and happy. I thought of that and started crying again. I felt like he had ruined that for me too.
“Bend over. Pick a carrot. Shake it off.” My carrots are usually small because I don’t take the time to thin them properly. But that day, I followed my own instructions and pulled a huge carrot out of the ground. It was so much bigger than what the top predicted be underneath. I marveled at the size and the perfection of this beautiful root. I stared at it. I thought, this is what I need to be, a carrot. Be like a carrot. Grounded. Rooted. Grow deeper. Stay rooted. Forget what the outside looks like. Grow deeper.