Six years ago Captain Daddy and I came home from the hospital after our baby died to find a tree in the driveway. A group of friends had gone together to buy us this: a six-foot tall crab apple tree sprouting towards the sky, roots tied up with burlap.
“We are so sad for you,” read the card that came with it. “This tree should bloom every year about now to remind you of your son.”
And it has. Some years later than others thanks to Central Oregon’s weird weather, but it always blooms.
It occurred to me this year—while considering the most marvelous, extravagant blooms yet—that our friends, like so many witnesses to a tragedy, may have not known if they were doing the right thing. They may not have had any idea of what to do, really. Would we want to be reminded of this every year? Would we want an entire tree? Should they send flowers instead, or food?
The tree was the perfect gift. In fact, I have never received a more perfect gift, ever. Even planting it was the perfect experience—something productive and distracting and restorative to do with that day.
And now, every year we wait, and watch. Every year, we remember, and cry. Every year, we see beauty bloom from sadness. This is life—bad things happen, but good things persist.
I love this tree. I love how it anchors my very own yard, reminding me of lovely, fragile things—strength and friendship, love and pain. I love how it took a chunk of sorrow and gave it roots and flowers.