It's not often that I'm struck to get right to my computer and write a blog post. Usually I brew over it for a bit and then sit down to be inspired that the words will come as I want them to. But today, as I was pulling in to my house, I was definitely struck. I pulled in to the driveway like I normally would, and sat for a second listening to the podcast that I was finishing. I suddenly heard a loud rumbling noise, and my eyes flew to my rearview mirror (was there a plane landing in my driveway behind me? I knew David would one day make that impulse buy!). Behind me, sat my neighbor, Mr. Q's house. And in the yard was a handful of men, cutting down leaves and branches from the beautiful tree in his front yard. This is a photo from just a few weeks ago as I was enjoying breakfast on the front porch...
I realize that some of you are thinking that this is a completely normal fall/pre-winter thing to do so that branches won't fall on your yard or house, and leaves won't make everything all gross. I get that.
However, this tree means so much more...
When David and I first found this house and fell in love with it, we called the property management place right away and got a viewing for the next day. As we were looking around inside, and I was falling more and more in love with this lucky house gem, we stood in the front window with the woman and asked about the neighborhood. I knew that Bremerton had its tough neighborhoods, and also knew that we were surrounded by a few with a not-so-great reputation. She said that it was a great neighborhood, that there was a family with lots of kids that was super sweet (true!), and that the green house across was owned by a sweet elderly couple who had lived there since the 50's.
"In fact," she said," see that tree in their front yard?"
I nodded. It was a strange tree, with gnarled and knotted bark that twisted around itself in interesting patterns. It was full of bright green leaves, and had such character. And it had been planted, she proceeded to tell us, by the Q couple when they first moved in there. He planted one tree, and she planted the other right next to it. And throughout the years, it had grown together into this totally unique and beautiful thing.
I was sold.
After moving in, we encountered the Q's often. David once even went to their house and ended up talking to them for about 2 hours about the street we lived on, and about their lives. Mrs. Q once came out of the house and crossed the street in the cold evening just to tell David how happy she was that he was putting up Christmas lights, because she loved to look at them.
About 2 years ago, we noticed that Mrs. Q didn't come out very much anymore -- and soon after that, we learned from Mr. Q that she wasn't doing very well. A few days after Christmas that same year, our other sweet neighbors mentioned above informed us that Mrs. Q had passed away. On Christmas Eve. My heart broke for Mr. Q, and for the little paper snowflake that he kept up in his window for months because the neighbor "elves" had given it to him and Mrs. Q a week or so before Christmas.
He is a strong man. He mows his own lawn, drives, does lots of chores, and is pushing 80, if not over. But since Mrs. Q has passed, he just moves a little bit slower, and reports feeling "meh" a lot. But we think of Mrs. Q every time we put up Christmas lights, and even if we feel like not doing much, we at least do some in her honor.
So today, as I watched them shave the branches and leaves off of the tree in his front yard, and saw him standing in the front door watching all of it, my eyes tugged at my heart a little bit. It made me wonder how he was feeling, watching this. I wonder if he is thinking about how he planted this tree with his sweet love, and she was gone, and he was left here watching them collect the branches. I stood and watched for a little bit without being glaringly obvious, until I just couldn't do it anymore. I don't know if that is what he was thinking about, or how he was feeling watching this all take place. And the tree was still standing, strong and proud in his yard -- just minus its plumage that it had before. To him, it may have been a chore that has been waiting to be done and he was just finally happy that it was taken care of, without any subtext at all. This is just me reflecting on what it must feel like, and not even being able to IMAGINE what it would feel like. It makes me want to squeeze my love so tight when he comes home tonight and just remind him that I adore him. And promise him that we will live our lives together in a way that makes every branch that may someday fall count for so much more than it seems on the surface.