Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Changing Seasons

     If you'd have asked her when she was little what she wanted to be when she grew up, she'd have smiled  so deeply it looked like her dimples connected from inside her plump cheeks.  The words would have burst forth like a firework: "A tree!" You might have laughed, missing her frown and disappointment that you didn't believe her.
But that was how she saw herself in the universe; a spindly, gawky sapling.  She grew slowly; craning her thin branches to reach the sun. She hungered for the sighs of spring breezes, reveled her soft, new leaves. She craved summer heat and the laughter, new friends and cool, sweet nights. She treasured the dazzling  Autumnal colors she created and shivered in the winter chill; grateful for the time to rest and dream of the next year's adventures. There were tough times though.  She met those who proclaimed friendship and made pain.  Some tore her leaves, breaking parts of her.  Others crept closer still and tried to chew her down to nothing from the inside out. Once, she lost a branch when another crashed down too close to her. The pain  was unspeakable, nearly unbearable.  Her tears were a silent, painful river running through her very core but she stood tall, recovering slowly, proving to herself and others around her that she would survive and thrive.  Her bark grew hard and safe as she struggled in her life; fighting off swirling storms, disgraceful parasites, while accepting loving friends, new experiences and with each cycle, surging with life.  She stood graceful; powerful. Eventually, she fell in love, establishing deeper, thicker roots with another wonderful, strong tree; their lives intertwining, becoming one.  Her leaves seemed greener.  The sun felt brighter on her spreading canopy.  She was a happy tree. At last she saw the first tiny bud and was ecstatic; then another.  How wonderful! They grew, this little family; with many nights when she soothed them with whispers from the    night winds or made them giggle with tickles from her gentle leaves.  She curled her branches around those little buds when storms came; with rain hard and slicing or ice rigid and heavy.  Often she lost her own branches during those upheavals; the pain was gouging, leaving her scarred and raw, but she protected those little buds with every fiber and grain in her solid, wise, trunk. 

  At last, and all too soon, her first bud began to tug, talk of falling off and growing in the soil nearby. The words came in burning stabs.  "Already?" she thought as the cold fear and truth seeped in, causing that river of sadness to rush through her once again.  She struggled with the shock and hurt at the thought of this little bud, who so freely laughed with her, had swung within her gentle foliage, depended upon her for everything now wanting to drop away; leave the security and happiness the tree had tried to build around it.  This knowledge and acceptance cloyed at her heart.  But one day when the summer sun was less angry and the fall colors hadn't yet begun to tingle in her veins, she allowed the wind to take the little bud.  She trembled and shook watching it race into the forest.  Away.  "Be safe, be careful, be strong..." she sobbed into the wind, watching tearfully as a piece of her very soul squealed excitedly into the universe.  She clung to her family bud and wept.  She had nightmares. Called out in fear and beckoned, begged for its return.  But the bud was gone. Those were dark days when her branches hung lower and she didn't feel so tall or strong.  She felt lonely; weak. She missed her baby, her friend. 
But the tree had to keep going despite the pain of losing part of her.  Slowly, she found herself laughing again, enjoying her friends, her family and her life but she always searched the canopy, listened to the breezes and worried.  Then, when the renewing rains came and leaves were soft and fresh, she heard it.  "Mama! Just LOOK at me!  Here I am!"  And surely as the seasons change, there was her little bud; craning, stretching, blossoming in the big forest; with lean, strong limbs and leaves shiny; beautiful; healthy.  There were some scars where branches were missing and there were some spots that held thicker bark for protection.  Sure enough, the once little bud was making another beautiful life, settling roots and growing strong and wonderful as she had always wanted; hoped 
 There was a surge of pride, love greater than any rainbow that had stretched above her.  Together they laughed and shared in the spring breezes.  They shaded each other when the summer sun threatened to broil and burn their leaves.  They competed and amazed each other with their vibrant, daring colors in the fall and in winter there was sleep filled with loving dreams and memories.  She was a lucky tree.  She smiled to her center; pleased with life that had grown around her.

This summer has been everything; exciting, heart-breaking, fun, sad; the whole kit-n-kaboodle.  My daughter leaves for college and I am what every parent is at this moment; a hot, sobbing mess.  I framed this for her and sent it with my boys since I will not be able to move her into her dorm.  

I love you Honey and miss you already.  I'm so proud of who you are and can't wait to see and share in all your successes as you become, our  Amazing Grace.  

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