Cut It Down
They’re cutting down the tree today.
Buzzzzzz. That’s the sound I hear through my ears.
But the sound I hear through my heart is louder. Children laughing. Leaves tossing. Dogs being petted. Bubbles being chased.
All under the shade of that tree.
But now? Gone. Replaced with tears. Loss. Emptiness.
With every limb that drops, a memory drops with it.
But it’s more than the tree that’s breaking me.
We have (well, had) two trees in our front yard. One is the required Yoshino cherry tree per our neighborhood’s original covenant. Everybody used to plant one. In the spring the neighborhood was lit up with beautiful light pink cherry blossoms. It was fabulous.
But times change.
As the years went by, either the neighborhood covenant was no longer passed around, or the residents discovered no one enforced it, so why bother planting a cherry tree.
There are still enough cherry trees in the older yards to make it worth your drive through the neighborhood though. I’m glad about that.
But the second tree in our yard was a water oak. It’s the tree nearest my daughters’ two bedrooms.
We bought the tree as a sapling when we moved into the house in 2001. It was a little crooked, a little malformed, so we got it cheap.
It started small, but after 20 years, it’s grown straight and tall and round. And big.
So big that its limbs brush against our roof. Its leaves clog the gutters. Its roots threaten the foundation of our house.
It took a lot of convincing, but I finally agreed. Okay. Cut the tree. Take it down.
No Turning Back
But now that it’s happening, I want to change my mind. I know it’s not reasonable.
Seeing the bareness left behind is too much because I’m in a season where other things have also been cut out of my life.
Things I didn’t agree to lose. Things I have no control over. Things that are far more important to me than any tree.
But now it’s done.
The spot where the tree once grew is now empty.
Empty is how my heart feels too. The front yard is a visible reminder of it.
In time, maybe we’ll plant something else. Something further from the house. Something that won’t cause us damage one day. Smaller. More manageable.
But today’s not the day. Today is the day we pay the tree trimmers our money and they take away our tree.
I feel the cuts in my heart. But my heart is still beating. I still have multiple joyful reasons to live and laugh and love.
I change my gaze from the front to the back yard. The back yard has so many trees I can’t count them. We planted very few of them ourselves. Most are here as gifts of time and grace and God. Strong, healthy, beautiful.
But one day they will be gone, too. Nothing here is forever except the love of God. Refusing to accept the impermanence of everything in our daily existence only causes extra suffering.
As I grieve my losses, I’ll try to remember to take in the whole picture, both front and back, both the things that have already changed, and the things that will surely change later.
And say thank you, God, for the blessings of today, the ones still here in the moment.
There are many.
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