Originally posted as a guest post on ErinMargolin.com on March 2, 2012, this post was chosen as a 2012 BlogHer Voice of the Year in the Identity Category. I’m beyond floored and honored to be in such great company.
Today begins a new feature here on my blog. I’m not sure I have a name for it yet (my only goofy inclination so far has been “Show Me YOUR Roots” because I show you mine all the time), but I simply want to learn all about you and where your roots are. What made you start blogging and writing? At Blissdom we talked a lot about community and I want to foster that here. I’m hopeful this is a way to begin doing that.
My first guest is Jana Anthoine of Jana’s Thinking Place. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting her in person yet, but I hope to someday soon. Her piece took my breath away and I know you’ll love it too. Please make sure to leave her some love.
Jana Anthoine is a half-witty Southern Belle who writes about life after loss and anything else she thinks anybody might care about at Jana’s Thinking Place. She is also the Vice President/Editor/Do Whatever Needs To Be Done Person at Band Back Together. She lives a semi-charmed kind of life in the big city of Atlanta and tweets incessantly about the funny stuff her kid does.
Root (n): a part of the body of a plant that develops, typically, from the radicle and grows downward into the soil, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment and moisture. (from dictionary.com)
Root (n): a part of your soul that develops, typically, from life experiences and grows outward into the world, anchoring yourself and absorbing the life and love around you. (from me, Jana)
I grew up in a small, Southern town, on a street that was in an old pecan orchard. Every spring and fall, we were reminded of the roots of our neighborhood with pollen and sap and the late fall arrival of the pecans. My roots in small-town Georgia are as deep as the tap roots that hold a pecan tree upright.
That tap root is significant in that my childhood and early adult years were very narrowly focused. Attending private school where all your friends were the same (race, religion, etc) and being surrounded by adults and children
who had essentially the same views on everything politically and socially was just the way it was. I didn’t question it; surely everyone was just like this. Right? I had one narrow root holding me on this earth.
College opened my eyes and widened the reach of my roots in a whole new way. People were different colors, believed different things, loved different ways. People were rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate. People were kind and people were evil. That tap root gained a few branch roots off each side, further gripping the soil beneath my feet.
Marriage brought yet another view of the world. A world where life wasn’t always rosy. Couples struggle at times, though most times are joyful. Friendships with your spouse’s friends aren’t always easy. Working for a living is tough stuff. Becoming (and staying) pregnant isn’t guaranteed.
With each revelation, more branch roots were grown, holding me tighter to my truth.
In 2003, our son died.
Do you know what this felt like? It felt like a truck, going as fast as it could down a freshly paved road and swerving to miss something in the road and slamming into my tree, my world, and taking it out right here and there.
Do you know what the difference was from my early roots that were tap root-like? A tap root is a very weak root system. They are easily uprooted. Now my roots were firmly planted. They were fibrous and had spread out over the years, reaching out for nutrients and love and support.
When my world was rocked and uprooting was imminent, my tree snapped off at the base, roots deeply entrenched in the earth.
In the nine years since Charlie’s death, new life has begun to sprout from the still-living root system. Green leaves have emerged from the base of my tree in the form of my son Henry, my new-found love of writing and new friends and acquaintances I never would have known.
Now, instead of a Southern Pecan with a weak root system, I am more like a Southern Magnolia. I stand strong and firm in the soil beneath my feet, held tightly by a beautiful root system that even the most tragic situation can’t take from me.