It’s a well-worn analogy.
You may recall that the ice storm of early ’18 took down our majestic maple tree in the front yard.
Planted when our eldest was only a baby, the “family tree” grew with us. It sported five branches spreading out from the trunk, mirroring our family size.
Two-fifths of the tree crashed unceremoniously under the load of ice and later an arborist removed the rest, leaving only a memorial stump.
Our landscape changed.
Ironically, we’ve altered the look of our yard multiple times over the three decades we’ve lived here and I have no recollection of grieving like I did over this tree. Yes, its leaves lit up the street with blazing orange, red, and yellow each fall. Yes, it provided shade from direct sun, cooling us in the heat of summer. Yes, our children climbed it and hung on its branches like little monkeys.
Certainly those pieces added to my loss.
In June I walked by the stump to see a small shoot emerging from the front of the downed giant. New life from old. Life from death. Analogies flew as I stared at this brave sprout forging its way in the world.
I pulled it out.
Not many days later, Bill asked about planting another tree and I replied, much to the surprise of us both, “I don’t want another tree.”
I know that grief and loss can’t be boiled down to one neatly packaged and summarized nugget. However, I do see one element that rings true in the midst of the complex emotions.
Ice initiated the first loss – something completely beyond my control. Future safety of our home – which I highly value – determined the remainder must come down. Externally imposed change is hard.
I recall countless clients throughout my career coaching life who suffered deeply after being fired, downsized, dismissed – whatever term was given. Even if they could own some of the reasons for being let go, their transition process was complicated by it not coming on their timing or initiative.
And as was often the case with my clients, after time passed and painful processing work was done, healing began. Perspectives shifted. The “worst thing ever” wasn’t. Some even acknowledged the forced shift to be a gift. Hindsight is like that.
I can see the cost of having our tree for almost three decades. Under our lawn is a tightly woven, intertwined network of roots and capillaries that make planting a small annual burdensome. Our flowerbeds are riddled with an almost impenetrable mesh of water-seeking tubes. Areas of our driveway have heaved as larger roots sought water and stability beyond the grass. Who knows how the foundation of the house could have been impacted?
I can see the value in the maple going.
And, I’m not ready to replace it. I need the stump of reminder a little longer. Maybe next year.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst