The Cherry Tree

Only love is big enough to hold all the pain of this world. Sharon Salzberg

The Charlie Brown cherry tree appeared at the driveway’s end,
dropped off near the mailbox by a friend.
Tall and spindly, too skinny for its black plastic container.
Its twiggy branches weighed down by neither blossoms nor leaves.

A gesture of love and silent support after the death of my son,
we planted the tree in the front yard.
A living reminder of my friend’s quiet kindness,
at a time when there were no words.

The following year, the tree burst forth
with a slender crown of delicate taffy pink blooms.
Floral and earthy with a hint of bitterness,
a soundless invitation to bees and hummingbirds alike.

Cherry tree one year after planting. Skinny truck with branches full of blooms in shape of tear drop

Within a week or two,
the flowers vanished,
giving way to a forest of green leaves
that remained until late fall.

Year over year, the cycle repeats,
each crop of blossoms more glorious
then the year before.
A vivid reminder that rebirth is possible,
even on the grayest of days.

I have sat on the grass staring up at that tree,
watching the petals dance in the wind.
Anchoring myself in the world
by fighting to remember the beauty that remains.

Observing the tree’s acceptance of her loss,
the release that makes way for growth and rebirth.
The strength to stand tall when stripped of everything
and only her essence remains.

Like the cherry tree,
I am built to birth my own joy.
Sturdier and stronger than I ever knew,
I have swayed and bent but not yet broken.

Sometimes it is the smallest acts that help us survive.
The honoring of a loss, the willingness to witness.
How much more we can bear
when held by others.

Kindness shines, reminding the lost
of the good still left in the world.
Those sweet gestures the molecules
that make up a connection, a friendship, a life.

Time creeps as the seasons fly by.
My son is eight years gone this spring.
The display of showy pink blooms
my yearly reminder to go on.

Cherry blossoms, like my boy, are brilliant and beautiful
and far too short-lived.
Living on means accepting it all––
the here and gone-too-soon son, the beauty and pain,
knowing that even now, I, too, will bloom.

Cherry tree seven years after planting covered with bright pink blossoms

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