Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The weekend I found out I was pregnant, Mike and I had plans to visit a local plant nursery for Mango Madness.   The nursery had arranged for a mango expert to speak a little bit about the care of mango trees.   They also had about two dozen different types of mangoes to sample.  Did you know there are over 100 different types of mangoes?   Well, there are.   And they all have a slightly different taste.   Some are slightly grainy and bitter.  Others are smooth and buttery.  While Mike sat at the front of the room, listening intently on how best to cultivate a tree, I circled the sample table, grabbing toothpick after toothpick to see which type I liked best so we could buy that specific tree.   I had known I was pregnant for less than 24 hours, and already I was thinking about how old our baby would be when we could harvest our fruit.   A mango tree takes about two to three years to produce fruit.   I pictured our little baby in her highchair, smiling and laughing and covered in golden goo from our first harvest.

After the presentation, I told Mike I had figured out what type of tree to get.  We chose a Kent mango tree.  It's fruit is slick and sweet - and it was my favorite.  As we walked through the nursery with our cart toward the trees, my hand never left my stomach.   This was my baby's mango tree.  We would eat the fruit together.   We placed the tree in the back of my Honda coupe, laying it on it's side with the back seat folded down, and drove home.   Mike planted the tree in our backyard while I called my mother to tell her the news of her future grandbaby.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Well, it's ok.  Your future children can eat those mangoes."   That would be true if the tree's story ended here.   February in Florida is usually the coldest month.  It can get below 50 for several days in a row.  Sometimes getting into the 30's, but not often.   This year, February was unseasonably warm.   I remember sitting out at recess with my teacher friends the Friday before we lost her remarking about how nice the weather was.   It was as if winter had forgotten us.

When Kenley died a few days later, winter remembered.   March was ridiculously cold.  And not a day or two here and there as we are used to.  It was repeatedly below 60 degrees for the entire month.   I like to think it was because the world was mourning with me.  I like to think March was so bitter because my heart was so full of sadness.  

March killed the mango tree.  It is a dry and shriveled shell.  It's brown and brittle leaves hang lifeless around it's tiny trunk.   Like Kenley, it's not coming back.  All through April, Mike tried to work his gardening magic on it, but it's gone.  We really should pull it up, but I can't bear that right now.  

I suppose symbolism is really what you make it to be, but I always considered this tree to parallel my daughter.  We planted it when we found out about her.  It was her tree.  We were going to eat the mangoes together.   It would grow and so would she.   When she died, all the warmth left my world for a solid month.  Literally and figuratively.   And the mango tree couldn't take it either.   So, no Kenley and no mangoes.   Just an empty crib and a hole in the ground that holds yet another broken promise.

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