Gratitude and a Goodbye

Today we had to say goodbye and it wasn’t easy. We both knew the time was coming. This summer your green didn’t come back for long, not even on the tippy top of your glorious branches that stretched to the sun. In the last few weeks, I’ve been worried about you. You’ve been holding on. Stiffening up the little bit of umbrella you had left – and wrapping your limbs around the house – keeping us safe for one last transition. 

I think all the little forest creatures are mourning your exit, as  heavily as I. Why,  you’ve always been there – all of my years. Watching over us. My first memories of the lake – over four decades ago, you frame – your slim, almost elegant trunk stretched out into the sky for what seemed like miles. You were the last great big pine that close to the lake (besides the crazy leaner). All those years, you smiled down on us swimming, playing night games, catching frogs, peering through your branches at the starry night above. You welcomed us when we sang around fires, played bags, tied a clothesline around you.  You kept silently smiling. You gazed proudly as the house was painstakingly constructed (with your comfort in mind). And to show your appreciation you wrapped your big beautiful healthy canopy around the house to protect us as each board went up. You kept silently smiling. You were there peeking in on our wedding day, you were an incredible anchor for wedding tents, never so much as bending to the pressure. A stoic hero. You kept silently smiling. And then – you really WERE smiling as my mom chose a face for you. It seemed perfectly suitable. You kept smiling silently. You framed every single beautiful sunset from that perfect corner of the upper lanai. Whether these were photos or memories – they are locked into me. And I am so incredibly grateful for the years I got with you.

And I knew – our time together was waning. That pesky woodpecker was certainly speeding up your demise, like cancer mine. But, we came back for years – I waited. The summer of 2020, when I really thought it might be my last, I spread out my hammock beneath your branches, feeling your smile. I knew we were both in rough shape. But, then a little bit of green popped up on your tippy top and I could feel you just might have one more year in you. Funny, because my treatment changed at the same time and I was feeling a little less green, feeling like I might have a little more time left too. 

And this summer, when your tippy top never turned green – I knew one of us was not going to see another year. I tried to make you feel loved for one last summer – I am certain you felt it because I could feel your smile.  You kept silently smiling. I made sure to spread my hammock beneath you, hang towels on your clothesline, have little pep talks with you. (I could see you were barely hanging on). I even gave you more hugs than I have ever given you in all my 40 plus years. I noticed you more than ever, I took all the photos – both mental and actual photos. And then this fall, it was time. We had to part and I cried the day your face was pried off your sappy, elegant, slim trunk. I thought of all our time together. And then on an unseasonably warm autumn day – I wrapped my arms around you (for what I thought) was my last time. I cried and I thanked you, honored you for all your tireless love, your beauty and your fierce loyalty and protection. And then – delay. More delay. The day of your undoing kept getting delayed. I knew you were doing everything you could not to fall on us, not to tip right onto us. That damn wood pecker was riveting giant holes through your beautiful trunk.  Until the end, you persevered, you stood tall and protected us. You were so brave. 

And then the first snow came, I saw you smiling as the big, fat, flakes fell. I trudged out into the front yard that night to give you one last great, big hug – this was really our last one. I spun a little Pachamama web around you in the fresh snow to honor you.  And today, you came down. I am so glad we had that one last magical moment. 

You were magnificent.

4 thoughts on “Gratitude and a Goodbye

  1. Kate… So sad the tree is down. It’s devastating. 😫 It meant so much to you. 💝You wrote the best eulogy for a beloved tree anyone has ever written. 👏🏻 So sorry for the heavy loss, another one… And with all you have going on already…The yard feels extra empty, and the face may need to find a new tree body.  Hugging you, and feeling for your loss,Love you, – Celia xoxo


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