trees that have held me
It seems as though I’ve always had a fascination with the trees we live amongst. Not the trees in the far off forest, though those of course hold their own special wonder, but I’m talking of the trees in neighborhoods, the ones that shade our homes and dapple our yards, the ones we see everyday if we are really looking.
Some of my most vivid memories center around these kinds of trees.
I don’t remember much from my early childhood, but I do remember taking walks with my dad after dinner before he moved out. We’d walk around the neighborhood and the whole time I was anticipating the best part. The tallest tree in the world. Or that’s what it felt like to me. It was some piney evergreen type of thing, so big its half circle retaining wall took over the entire sidewalk. From my vantage point, a little girl looking up, it seemed to rise up forever. If I ever needed evidence of god, then or now, I think of that tree. And that absolute gobsmacked wonder.
Later, I’d walk that neighborhood alone, a confused teen, in search of … something. I’d pray. And I’d cry. And I’d swing. I’d swing higher and higher, seemingly trying to catapult my way into someplace beyond here. And as I swung, I’d watch the trees in the skyline bob up and down, recede and get closer. Their outlines against the night sky, the meeting place between here and beyond here. It was calming. Comforting somehow. And I always felt better.
Much later, in my thirties, after returning from what was supposed to be a year of travel cut short, living in my mom’s house, a husband with brain cancer, a depression I hadn’t felt in years had set in. One day, folding laundry, staring absently out the window, tiny yellow leaves fluttered down in the late afternoon sun, beckoning me outside. I walked through that neighborhood. And I ran through that neighborhood. I did this for a week and something shifted inside me. I felt better. I felt more myself.
I hadn’t intended on writing about all this. This was supposed to be a different thing entirely. But I suppose it needed to come up.
All these memories took place in the neighborhood I grew up in, the one I’ve returned to over and over again throughout my life, for quick visits and extended stays. And very soon, once my mom’s estate is settled and the house sold, I’ll have very little reason to go back there. And I guess I’m mourning that loss. And I leave this here, even though it’s not what I set out to write, because I think it shows, even if just to myself, the strange and unexpected ways grief shows up. In the mourning of trees.