I stood in my favorite spot overlooking over the devastated backyard. The once tall and graceful tree now lay in pieces. Parts of the tree crashed over the kid’s swing set. The rest of the tree fragmented all over the grass. The storm had taken both out at once. The kids cried over the loss of their swing but I am shattered.
My husband slid his arms around my waist. “It will be okay,” he says. He just doesn’t get it. I fell in love with the tree first, house second. He remembered the mess after each storm and knowing the wood isn’t good for much, not even burning. He’s glad to be rid of it.
I heard a door slam outside. “They’re here,” my husband kissed my forehead and abandoned me to my grief.
I heard them laughing and joking outside. The tree killers. No, that isn’t fair. The storm did the damage, the men are just here to clean up the mess. The clatter of machinery reached me. No one understands.
I remember another willow in another backyard. Long before my world was irrevocably changed, I’d played under its branches all day. Mom knew where I could be found, always hiding, always safe.
I heard the chainsaw start, the loud rumble made me jump. The men began to take branches down, one by one. My husband stood watching, helping where he could. I wanted to look away but couldn’t as bit by bit the tree came down. The broken branches soon stood in neat piles, the men cleaning up as they worked. “It will be like it wasn’t there,” my husband said when I’d expressed concern over what to do with the remains of the tree. As the chainsaw work began on the main part of the trunk, I couldn’t watch any longer. I crawled into bed, still hearing the noise but no longer able to see it. I waited, hiding.
My husband found me in bed curled under a blanket. “Get up. They’re gone and I’ve got something to show you.” He stood patiently waiting while I extricated my self from the cocoon I’d built. He took my hand and led me into the back yard. All I could see was the strangeness of the empty landscape.
“Where do you want it?” My husband asked. I turned to look at him, “Want what?” “This.” He pointed to small willow sapling in a pot standing near the stump of the old tree. “I just need to know where you want it and I’ll get it in the ground.”
I smoothed my hand over the trunk and small branches. “Beautiful,” I breathed. “Wherever you think is best.” Smiling through my tears, I watched him begin.