Sometimes it’s the one added thing that makes it impossible to bear the load. The thing in itself is not the issue. After all, who would give that much credit to a rubber plant? But, Casey was dying. At least he might be dying. Or, maybe he wasn’t dying. And it was the “maybe not” from the doctor that pressured Casey’s wife into a frantic search for an apartment on the first floor because Casey couldn’t walk up steps and the home they knew and loved had two flights of stairs.
I was asked if I would go with his wife, Ellen, and help her choose a new apartment. It was decided that I would have a better perspective if I saw the current apartment and how much furniture and other things they had.
There was much to consider, but the focal point was the rubber plant. Ellen looked at it, proudly displaying its shiny leaves in the patio. At that moment, it obviously had become more than just a rubber plant. It was the thing that Casey had planted and tended, nurtured and fussed about. What could she do with the rubber plant? Moving it to a smaller place wasn’t an option, nor was getting rid of it. It suddenly became the thing that made the whole situation too much to bear. Feeling helpless and sensing maybe there was something I could do I stammered, “I’ll take it.”
We wrapped it in plastic bags and gently squeezed it into the back seat of my car. A small baby would not have been handled with more care. The situation now somehow seemed more bearable. A new apartment was chosen and the move was made.
Casey died two days after coming home from the hospital. Ellen was knee deep in boxes, grief, doubt, and confusion. At the memorial service talk I told Ellen and the kids that I felt Casey had acknowledged, in the only language he knew, that he believed that Jesus was the way the truth and the life. At the same time I developed this pressure to keep this rubber plant alive. It seemed a small thing I could do for the family.
In the future I will write more about the rubber plant as there are events that will make you laugh. For today though, recognize that in life there are many things we can’t control; but it’s often the things we can control, the stresses we add to our life, the rubber trees of our our life, that become the things which make our current situation all too much to bear. Is there a rubber tree in your life? Share your stories with us.