The tomato plants hanging over the grow box creep onto the sidewalk fall chaotically onto my pathway look dead. It appears that someone at Stanford Hospital previously cared for these plants.
There’s evidence that tomato cages and stakes supported the plants growing tall and abundant. Now the cages lean haphazardly with the plants’ heaviness. The plants are left to die during the cool fall days.
The dead plants remind me of my life. Dealing with undiagnosed brain impairment for the past five years, darkness clouds my former bubbly personality and positive outlook on life.
After a long search, the doctors from the neurology & epilepsy department diagnosed me just last week. I’m one of the lucky ones. My diagnosis only took five years, while most people aren’t diagnosed for seven years.
My non-epileptic seizures don’t change my disability status. I’m still unable to fulfill my college professor responsibilities. I feel isolated and alone especially since my life no longer centers on hundreds of students and colleagues.
Then I notice that the plants are not quite dead. I discover two tiny, green tomatoes. I touch them and wonder how they are surviving amidst this tangled and forgotten garden. My eyes burn and overflow with tears. How will I survive another dark day?
During my hospitalization, the garden is the only place where I’m allowed some fresh air. Every day I’m compelled to visit the garden to check on my discovery. Breathing in the crisp air while observing God’s beauty, gives my heart a lift. The two small tomatoes are still growing amongst the neglected plants. If these two tiny tomatoes can thrive in this forgotten garden, maybe I can get better too.
Today as I approach the plants, they look worse than when I discovered them ten days ago. I hope my adopted tomatoes are still growing. But they’re not.
“They’re red,” I exclaim to no one but myself. “My two green tomatoes are turning red.”
I’m so excited I search through other vines parting their branches. I discover six tiny tomato buds on the first vine. On another I observe a dozen buds just forming in a row. Hundreds of tomato buds hang on the unkept plants.
What appears dead is still growing but unseen by those who pass by. I can’t always see the buds God is growing in my life. Yet in His time, I see glimpses of “red” just like my two adopted red tomatoes. There’s life amongst this forgotten garden. On this quiet nippy fall morning, I remember, God hasn’t forgotten me either.