Dead Plants

I saw a TikTok recently that recommended to young women, specifically, that they “stop watering their dead plants.” Meaning, of course, that they stop giving their energy to friendships that aren’t “alive.” Don’t devote energy to the friends that don’t respond first, or take a long time to respond, or don’t want to hang out anymore.


My grandmother raised two philodendron xanadu plants that lived through everything possible. She had a green thumb, anyway, in a way I can’t describe. Which is crazy, by the way, because I have a fantastic gift to raise plants! I’m sure I learned that from her. The story was that she bought the first one in 1975, which makes the roots of the plant older than even me. Then, she rooted a piece of the first one and grew the second one.

Now, for as long as I can remember, these plants have been around. They were in her office when I was a kid, they were in her house after she retired, after my grandfather passed, and in her greenhouse after she remarried. After she passed, she left them to my mother and myself.

Fast forward a few years, and in the throes of life and all that gets in the way, both of the plants lost all of its green, and for all intents and purposes… died. I remember feeling this sense of loss and knowing that my grandmother would have been heartbroken because these two plants, these two babies of hers, were lost because of negligence.

I drug the two plans outside into the sun and the open weather as spring came around, and I watered. I waited. I watered, and… I waited. Months went by and nothing came of it. March, April, May, June, and then July came. I pulled the weeds from the two massive pots they were planted in and mulled over my life choices that brought me to this point. I was giving all this energy to try to save what I once valued — what I still valued — but it didn’t seem to be working. I watered them one more time, and resolved myself that I was never going to see them again, and I walked away, leaving the skeletal remains of the two formerly-gorgeous plants behind.

The next day when I came outside, my son had sat one of his toys on the planter, and when I moved it, I saw something that made my heart skip a beat. There, muddled in the midst of the roots and remains of that philodendron was a green shoot reaching for life again. Somehow, after being “dead” for months, this thing had resuscitated and was searching for the nourishment that it hadn’t had for all the time I had ignored its existence.

Friendships are like that, too, though. Relationships, in general. Just because the plant looks like it’s dead, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be watered, talked to, loved into becoming what it used to be, or becoming the best that it can be. That “dead plant” may be a busy mom or dad, stressed, or missing something. Just because it doesn’t come out to play doesn’t mean that it isn’t working on building itself back up through the soil, and you may just be the nourishment it needs to make it there.

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