I bought you a tree today.
It’s a Zelkova Serrata, a tree known for strength and resistance to disease. As I ran my hand down the gray trunk, I thought of you and how hard it must have been to say goodbye, to let your father go. I thought of how quickly cancer consumed his strength.
There aren’t words to express how sorry I am for you. Every word feels meager in the pallid face of such staggering grief.
Thankfully when there aren’t words, there are trees.
The Zelkova Serrata can grow to be 100 feet tall with a crown that stretches wide to provide shady relief in the heat of Summer. In Spring it has pale yellowish green flowers.
The Zelkova Serrata is known by furniture makers for the beauty in its bold grain, but I think its real beauty comes in Fall when it covers the ground in a blush of red, yellow and purple leaves.
You’ve wanted this tree for some time and it’s fitting then that there was only one of these trees available in the whole city. One singular tree. Your tree. Tall and full of healthy buds ready to wake from dormancy.
I put the top down in my car and drove the tree to your house, my hair and the branches whipping in the wind. We were quite a sight, me and your tree sitting tall in my Mini Cooper. The man at the nursery tied a plastic red flag to one of the branches and as I drove to you I could see the red flag snapping in my rearview mirror like a lone prayer flag.
Sadness was etched in your face today, dear friend, and I felt silly as I stared at my shoes and explained that I’d brought you a tree.
The tree houses my wishes for you.
I wish that it provides cool shade and respite. I wish that months from now, when your grief has begun to ease, you’ll delight in the beauty of its colors. I wish that when you look out at the tree, you’ll remember the love between you and your dad, love that is strong, love that is impervious to disease and death. And each spring as new buds press out through the branches, I wish that you find renewed strength.
I bought you a tree today. And somehow in my cavernous lacking of the right words to comfort you, the silent branches of the tree said it all for me.
Your friend and a tree
11 thoughts on “A Tree For My Friend”
After our son died, a neighbor we barely knew brought us a katsura tree. It had beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Our son had a wonderful, thoughtful heart; that tree was a wonderful, thoughtful gift.
Rebecca, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad to know you appreciated the tree and I hope my friend will receive some comfort from her tree as well.
Reblogged this on Grief: One Woman's Perspective and commented:
A beautiful post by a thoughtful friend.
A beautiful post.
Thank you, Martha. She’s a beautiful friend.
How truly beautifully written! What an incredibly thoughtful gift, and it brings to mind that perhaps sometimes a tree won’t be quite right for a friend’s home, but maybe something living like a rose bush! I’ll be more mindful of the opportunities to share with a grieving friend in this most lovely tangible way. Debra
Thank you, Debra. I agree that a tree isn’t always best. I was fortunate to know my friend had her eye on this particular type of tree, but a rosebush would be equally nice. I have a houseplant that a friend gave me when my father died. I have a brown thumb, but that houseplant is intrepid. Each time I pass by it, I think of my lovely friend and her generosity in a difficult time.
So beautifully written. You’re a lovely friend.
Thank you. She’s a lovely person and I’m glad to be her friend.
The tree is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much. I look at it every day and think of my dad. Thank you! I just read this post…the day I walked with my mom on the team named for both my parents at Shasta College for Relay for Life. Totally bitter sweet. Sweet walking with mom. Bitter that dad was not here to walk with us. Amazing to scroll your blog and find this lovely post. Thank you friend!
Wow, Julie, what an inspiration you are walking with & for your parents. I’m just so proud of you and how you’re loving and honoring your parents. I’ll have to come and see the tree when I get back and tell you stories from Uganda. Keep learning lots of things at tech camp and teach them to me when I get back, please. 🙂