TREE-ting the Problem-Doing the Right Thing is Never Easy

Apparently, a purple plum tree only has a life expectancy of 20 years or so. I never realized that some trees have life expectancies, like humans. Unlike us, I always assumed that trees would live forever. I mean, isn’t that the point of planting a tree anyway? So that after we are long gone, the tree is still there like a pillar of strength continuing to emit life to all those who look at it?

The tree that has been loyally standing in front of our house for 22 years (we have lived here for 14 years) only slightly defied these statistics, though, the ominous crack down the middle and the straggly blooms fearfully indicated that its demise was imminent. After all, I didn’t want it to come crashing down on the house, or, more importantly, on one of the kids playing in the driveway. No, the practical side of me prevailed on the side of safety, the emotional side…well, that was a completely different ballgame. In the end, I decided it was for the best; my husband and I picked out a young, new tree to replace it. I was okay with the whole thing, until the tree murderers with their big, electric saws and pulverizing tree chipper device showed up on our lawn this morning.

I warned my husband a few days prior that we needed to prep the kids. He decided not to say anything because he didn’t want any long, emotional drawn out goodbyes throughout the week. Well…let’s just say that this morning did not go very smoothly. In fact, the six-year old was hysterical…I knew exactly how he felt. Wracking sobs filled his poor little body as he watched them severing limbs off his most beloved tree. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I tried to usher them quickly into the car with promises of a new and lovely tree. Yeah…like that was going to work. I couldn’t even convince myself…I was a fraud for trying to pass that crap onto a six-year old. Eventually, the crying ceased, only to be followed with, “I’m so sad about the tree.” “I know.” I responded. “I am sad too honey.” Once we got to camp, he seemed to perk up and I was relieved.

While driving home, I had a mental montage of still frame pictures regarding the tree and sure enough, I began bawling. It reminded me of the time we traded in my sedan for a minivan and I completely broke down in the CarMax parking lot.
It wasn’t the tree per se, though I loved the way it yielded candy pink blossoms in the spring followed by rich aubergine leaves in the summer. It was the first sign of life on the lawn after a long, dull and dreary winter. It breathed new life every year and the kids would get excited with each bursting bud along with the promises of warm weather to come. Sure, that tree was a beacon of spring and I loved its aesthetic quality…but I guess I was more upset at what the tree represented.

We took pictures under the tree with the kids with each passing phase starting with infancy, followed by ballet recital and karate pictures, pre-school graduations, first day of school, and so on. When the kids were much younger, there were days as a stay-home mother where after a stressful morning (that was preceded by a colicky infant the night before and not much sleep, and no a.m. nap in sight) that I would question my decision to be home with the kids. Then, on a particular summer morning, I had an idea to bring them outside on a blanket under the tree. I loaded the blanket with snacks, books and assorted toys and suddenly everyone was happy just being outside. We played, sang songs, and one of them even fell asleep. As I watched my sleeping boy, with his beatific face outlined by the shade of the tree, I suddenly felt …lighter. I had truly enjoyed those innocent moments on the blanket, no longer feeling angry or resentful; I had grabbed the precious opportunity to be with them, in the moment.

The trees was used as base for hide and seek, a haven for climbing (until we realized it was weak) or just a place to cool off with a chair and a book after playing on the driveway. I guess in the end, the tree represented ...passing moments in time that I can’t get back.

I think a lot about passing moments these days and I hate that I have turned into this maudlin, weepy creature, but I can’t help it. The kids are getting so big now, so fast, and I guess I am having a really tough time dealing with it. It doesn’t seem to take much to get me going either. I mean, I could be watching an episode of Phineas and Ferb with the kids and something will set me off…I know, I know , get thee to a therapist Rachel.

It’s finally quiet. The tree murderers have completed their task and I no longer hear the whirring of the tree chipper/chopper. It’s a relief. I am afraid to look out there, though. I feel like my memories have been pulverized. Okay, I admit that was a bit dramatic. My husband told me that the tree was so diseased at the bottom that they pulled the base out with a few mere tugs. So, at least I know we did the right thing. However, doing the right thing is never easy.

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