It rained over 4″ the night before. Like one of those “when will it stop” kind of rains.
Flooding hit parts of our city, and our creek in the backyard looked more like a little river.
We woke up that Sunday morning to some bad news. The tallest, most beautiful Bradford Pear happens to be right outside our bedroom window. It’s at least 40′ tall and completely full.
I’m not a tree guy, but I don’t think they usually grow that tall. Or that full.
And if you know anything about these trees, you can guess where this is headed.
The big winds, heavy rains and soft ground were a bad combination.
That Sunday morning, our Bradford was leaning 45 degrees down the hill. We had a tree guy come look to see if it was able to be pulled back up and reset, but the trunk had split at the bottom.
The wood was so soft, it couldn’t withstand its own weight in the wind.
After we refused his generous offer of $750 to cut it to pieces, I got the chainsaw out and went to work.
I didn’t expect this reaction (which highlights my ignorance or insensitivity), but the women in my life started crying when I began to cut.
It was a beautiful tree for sure, but I didn’t anticipate the connection. There was true sadness in their hearts to see this tree reduced to fire-pit wood.
Apparently during one of my cuts, after Brooke explained the tree was sick and unable to be saved, our oldest said to her, “just because something is dying, doesn’t mean you stop fighting for it.”
She doesn’t realize how wise and true her words are.
Sometimes though, death is the best way to new life. It sucks that it’s that way, but it seems to be the way things work. Perhaps the old has to die in order to see the new?
Her longing was beautiful, noble even. Fight to save the tree. It’s beautiful. Don’t let it die.
But maybe the best way to fight is to lay it down and surrender?
That full, beautiful tree reminded me of myself to an extent.
One unnoticeable degree at a time, parts of me had started to die, slowly. So slow that I was blind to it.
Like death by a thousand paper cuts. The factors are my own doing, but I imagine you have factors of your own. For me, the list looked something like this…
Almost 15 years of marriage (anyone who tells you marriage is easy hasn’t been married long 😃). 5 kids. 7 moves. Baggage from my own childhood. A few different jobs. Launching a new company. Pain suppressed and medicated, not with pills but with busyness, optimism and “success”.
What once stood tall and proud, full and beautiful, I woke up and my life felt like that Bradford Pear. 45 degrees from true north and 45 degrees from destruction.
Unlike the strong winds that blew in our backyard, my leaning felt more like a million tiny whispers over the years.
You’ll know more of the story someday, but I’m glad mine has a different physical ending than the tree whose limbs will now roast marshmallows instead of provide shade for our bedroom window.
But the dying part resonated with me, like the down deep sort of harmony. Like the reality that something dying makes room for something new to grow.
Such is the dance of life I suppose.
That Sunday night, the girls asked me to cut rings off the trunk of our now dead tree, for them to remember this beauty. I cut one for myself too.
It will sit on my desk, near my computer. A homemade coaster of sorts.
Hopefully, when I see it, I’ll remember the longing from our daughter.
Just because something is dying, doesn’t mean you stop fighting for it. Words too profound for her to fully comprehend. She’s right, it’s worth fighting.
And maybe the best way to fight is to lay it down and see what grows in its place.