Thirty Days of Gratitude – #18 – Happiness

My mom bought this cactus for me almost four years ago. It has not grown at all in the entire time I’ve owned it. In fact, it has almost died a few times, and I’ve even lost one piece of it because it got overwatered and the roots rotted. This “happiness” cactus, called a Euphorbia trigona, is quite a meaningful cactus for me.

Growing up I had a close childhood friend whose mom was also good friends with my mom. When I was a teenager, my friend’s mom gave my mom a small bud of this cactus. She said that by giving it to a friend, it would bring you both good luck and happiness. Over the years, the cactus grew in height and in number of branches. I really adored the cactus, just by virtue of it being a beautiful thing.

When we were 20, my friend went on an exchange student program to Mexico. Around this time of year – 2 weeks before the May long weekend and the end of her trip – she was killed in a bar shooting in Guadalajara. Of course, I was absolutely distraught. Not only was she my good friend, but she was my age, and her death was my first real experience with death. It was a very difficult time in my life.

A few years later, my mom commented that the cactus was getting too big for her house. I told her I would take it. The cactus had become something special and meaningful in my life. So I packed the ginormous cactus into my little car and brought it to my apartment. From that moment on, it seemed to have a little list to the side because it never fully recovered from that car ride. The cactus continued to grow, albeit slower than before. I am not known for my ability to take care of plants and one day the cactus fell over. I staked it up, but it just seemed intent on dying. Eventually it started growing scales and lost all its leaves; I decided that it had “cactus cancer” and sadly had to part with it.

For years, it was sort of a running joke between my mom and I that she managed to keep a cactus alive for 10+ years and then i took it and it died shortly after. I searched the plant sections of home and garden stores for a replacement cactus every time I found myself there. And, for years I never found one. It wasn’t until that day, 4 years ago, when I was out with my mom and we saw this cactus at The Home Depot. She bought it for me as a sort of “peace offering” for all the times she made fun of my lost cactus.

So, for the past 4 years, I have tried to keep this cactus alive. I am sure my husband has tried to throw it away multiple times, but I never let him. We lost one branch, and I thought for sure that the rest was going to follow.

However, just this spring, I noticed something I’ve never seen before: New Growth! New little leaves, new little buds, and lengthening of the arms. I’m taking it as a sign of good luck and happiness to come. I am grateful for this little cactus, given its symbolism and it’s history (well, at least the history it represents).

I am grateful that I have had something that my friend lost 15 yers ago: the opportunity to live, to pursuit my goals and dreams, to have children, and to experience all life has to offer. The new growth on this plant, after so many years of drought, is a sign that my life is moving forward and in the right direction.

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