Even the most inexperienced plant mama with the blackest thumb could raise a snake plant to survive decades of dodging direct sunlight. She doesn't need green fingertips covered in potting mix, or a stash of ceramic cachepots to keep the stalks stiff, vibrant, and outlined with pretty yellows. No, the small plastic planter inside the slightly larger plastic planter with no drainage hole would do just fine. It was a mid-September Saturday afternoon when she eagerly and strategically placed her first attempt at greenery in its special spot. In the corner next to the long white TV stand that held the sage, the rock that read "Peace", and the turquoise Buddha head.
Christmas approached. The festive artificial tree had to go up. The 3-tier stand showcasing the plain ol' house plant, the artsy monstera, and the independent snake plant had to move over; the only sensible option being next to the leaning ladder bookshelf. Six feet closer to the door with the vertical rectangular window. Six feet closer to the sunlight.
One month after, she sat at the edge of her couch, phone in hand. She stared at the modest tilt in the snake plant. From the phone speaker, her bestfriend said, "How do you kill a snake plant." A perplexed statement not meant to be confused with a question.
Pulling the thick leaf from the soil with too much ease, she replied, "I guess it got too much sun. The other two are still healthy. But this one is dead. Been dead. Funny how that works."
The monstera started to die once, but she could see the bend in its life, and she saved it. That's when she knew her black thumb could be green if she wanted.
The snake plant had died completely. Right there on the middle tier. A front-and-center death not even noticeable to those with 20/20 vision. She only knew because there was a slight rebellion in how the middle stalk stood. Out of place, like an attention-seeking middle child. She gently pulled at the center of it, and out it came. Roots black.
"How do you kill a snake plant?"
This time a question from her own lips glossed by the moisture of her tears as she stood in the bathroom mirror. Bright LED lights announcing weighted eyes heavy from the salt of her mourning. Her usual forced smile now a resentful frown.
This random Thursday morning marked one year and seven months before she noticed the rot. It seeped through what used to be the most beautiful parts of her. Shining her light where it meant nothing had left her with precisely that... nothing. Staring back at the carcass in the mirror, it finally dawned on her. As much as she believed she knew everything about anything, she was only a novice. Her thumbs were still black.
She had swallowed too many cries, overwatering every bit of her self-neglect and drowning the woman she once knew. Her silhouette was still attractive and able, not requiring much of anything outside of basic care to bloom. Yet, the core of her wilted. Gone in the same way she managed to kill the snake plant; in plain sight.
Spotting the root rot, she got into her car and drove to the nearest garden center. She returned home with a bag of Miracle-Gro, cut away the dead, and painted her thumbs green.
Then she wrote a blog about it.