Lamprocapnos spectabilis

In the garden bed where my mother and I ripped out a thousand weeds, broadleaf green things have started to sprout. More weeds, no doubt. Recently upon inspection, I saw a deep purple thing emerging from the soil unlike a weed. To my semi-trained eye, I guessed it to be a Lamprocapnos spectabilis, or bleeding heart plant. She needed to move. This was the vegetable garden and here everything must rotate.


Trowel, bucket, scissors, large spade. I dug her a spot and moved her close to the landing of the deck stairs. If she lives through transplant, she will be beautiful. Job completed, I stared at the stump where the ancient cottonwood tree had rotted and fallen a few years before we arrived here. Trees try to grow from the edges of the bark, even as my mother and I tried to fight them back all last summer. This stump was an eyesore and took up a good portion of our small yard. I chop at it to speed the process of decomposition. I retrieved the ax to work away at the bark.

I have a stump, and an ax, and a whole lot of anger.  I am angry to be here living in the city where I feel lost and out of place. We came here for him, and Reece left me here. I am angry to live in a house that is suddenly too big for my family of just four. I am angry that I drive a minivan with a stupid third row that we don’t need. As I stood and adjusted my hands, I heard it, a recording that was replaying in my head that day.

“We will never register Reece for kindergarten.”

Days ago, I had gone through the paperwork process of registering my oldest for our neighborhood elementary school. I cried the whole time I filled in the blanks. I cried as I unfolded his “Certificate of Live Birth” and prepared it for photo copying. I sobbed silently in the front seat as we drove home from packet drop off and wiped myself up before parking in the garage. There is nothing sad about my oldest starting kindergarten. He will be awesome. The sadness is coming to this milestone on a journey I never imagined I be on. The events between last spring and this have been so tumultuous. And yet, life has gone on. Kindergarten will still come.

We will never register Reece for kindergarten, I heard again. I swung, making contact, my back rippling as the bark split off into pieces. The open wounds I was making smelled of wet rot. Dank and swamp-like. The bark flaked and broke away. The sun came down on me, warm and never wavering.

“I was fucking healthy.” Another recording ticks on repeat in my head. He was healthy, I was healthy, we were healthy. And he died anyway, just because of one freak moment, one pinning against my pelvis, one fifteen minute bike ride.

“Fuck you,” I said out loud, to the stump, to my  life, to my aching heart that sees new babies at the grocery store and throbs in emptiness. The sound of my own voice brings me to weeping. I bend at the knees, the tears blurring my vision. My hands and arms ache from the jilt of chopping. The sun on my shoulders is warm and unwavering. I sit and sob, my garden boots dusty, my red jacket dusty, my heart, Lamprocapnos spectabilis.

My bleeding heart.

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