6. My Lemon Tree

It’s Wednesday and after yet another flurry of cold frost and snow, it’s starting to feel like winter has passed. It’s the 21st March: the first day of Spring and exactly nine years since my Grandad passed away.

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Signs of spring – crocuses I found on campus last Friday, on the walk back home

I think my life changed quite a lot on this day nine years ago. I remember waking up in the middle of the night at my friend Lucy’s house, feeling very alone and wishing my Grandad would come back to talk to me just one more time. In the morning Lucy and I were sitting on her trampoline looking up at the tall blue sky with a scattering of crisp, white clouds. I saw a wood pigeon and we giggled that it might be my Grandad in disguise. It’s taken me until recently to realise it, but I think a lot of my difficulties with mental health started then. I remember something switch off in my world when Grandad died, and I don’t think it’s ever switched back on.

The skies of late March and early April always remind me of Grandad but they also remind me of all the new life that’s to come in the following weeks and months. We’ve had so much snow and darkness this year that I hadn’t been anticipating the new flowers that spring up once the days start getting longer.

I have a lemon tree that I keep on my windowsill in Loughborough. I bought him in October at the Union when the five lemons were small and unripe. You almost couldn’t see them, like little emerald plums, under the waxy paper leaves.


Two lemons fell off in January without showing any signs of growth, so I thought the remaining three would follow suit soon after. However, the other day I realised that they have bloomed into three lovely yellow fruits.


I am really enjoying the company of my lemon tree. It reminds me that no matter how stagnant things may seem, changes are happening that I might not notice until they have happened.

I am somewhat disappointed that my lemon tree hasn’t sprouted any new lemons since I bought him – I’m also sad that two lemons were lost. But maybe it takes longer than I think for the lemons to grow bigger and more abundantly.

Like my lemon tree, I just need to work on keeping things going, maintaining and challenging just a little bit. I can do this knowing that one day I might wake up and notice that some really good things have happened and that I’ve been brave and strong enough to get myself into a better place.

Also like my lemon tree, I might not achieve all the things I want to when I originally planned to – the biggest one of these being getting better. But that’s OK… if it doesn’t happen as soon as I want to, it doesn’t mean it never will happen.

My lemon tree will grow more lemons and I will get better. I’m not sure when it’ll happen or how long it’ll take, but I know that we’re both working on it at the moment and one day we will wake up and see how far we’ve come.

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