Today, we mourned a good tree. Somebody who’s been dead for a long time (or maybe nobody) planted it where it stood for the last two hundred years – that is, until this morning. This morning, you became the last littlest resident of the old, green house to see that tree hanging right above her bedroom window, casting shade from its trunk and collecting woodpeckers in its mostly leafless branches.
Two winters ago, we watched as the snow weighed down a giant limb stretched the width of our neighbor’s garage. It never recovered. In the seasons that followed, we heard the snap of branches splitting as they hit the roof. And the woodpeckers? Recall those? Right. Dead. The tree was dead. And it had become a liability. So we talked to tree doctors and arborists and green-thumbed friends who concurred: For everything there’s a season.
So, today, we mourned that good tree.
Now, you and me, Elbee, we’ve officially lived long enough together to have made memories from “back when”: Back when you used to be a baby. Back when we lived in a little white house. Back before you had words. Back before you told me how you felt about ev-er-y-thing. Back when I knew anyway.
The thing with memories is, over time, and especially when you’ve lived more than a few decades, they get a little hazy in order to make room for those we haven’t made yet. And sometimes it’s precisely the new memories that make you remember the old ones in the first place.
That’s what happened today.
We were watching out the window when a man in a bucket lift took a first pass at that long limb above the neighbor’s garage. “I don’t know why it’s so sad!” you said. (I knew.) We headed outside to watch and, by the time they got as far as cutting the trunk, you were sobbing into your hands, and I was crying quiet tears for the third time today. “I’m gonna miss that old tree!” (Me, too.)
That tree was a part of the landscape of the old green house, the landscape of your early years, the landscape of our family… a part of it. The landscape was changing, leaving us, forever, with nothing but our memories and a stump. We, too, were changed.
That’s when I remembered this. And I knew that, even if you didn’t recall it precisely, you were completely different and yet exactly the same little Lorax as the one who used to talk to the trees as I pushed you in your carriage along that path we frequented for walks when I was a brand new mom.
For everything there’s a season.
The landscape has changed – again. But maybe even if I could I wouldn’t turn back the clock. It’s time to make new memories. It’s time to plant another tree.
Still, there’s a place in my heart for this one.