Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will come often. It is my hope that these stories and reflections will be helpful in your spiritual journey. I look forward to your thoughts, questions, or suggestions. Please leave your comments and join as a follower so I will know you were here. It is a privilege to share the journey with you.

If you wish to know more about me, spiritual direction or retreats visit my website. www.bunnycox.com. Blessings, Bunny

*See first posting in January, 2011 to learn why this blog is called "From the Big Red Chair."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Eulogy for a Peach Tree

The peach tree fell during the night. I awoke to find its branches obscuring the view from my kitchen window and its roots exposed to the morning. Every tree in the rain-soaked garden stands upright except the one that matters most to me.

I am going to miss the peach tree.  It has been my companion in these years since Tara died. It stood silent as I prayed and observed the changing seasons from the vantage point of my big red chair. It bloomed in the spring and rained pink blossoms in the breeze. Its summer fruit entertained the squirrels and temporarily stopped their relentless raids on the bird feeder. Yellow leaves in the fall foretold winter’s approach.  Day after day, season after season, I watched birds eat from the birdfeeder that once belonged to Tara. I watched them and felt connected to her. How can loosing a tree feel like loosing another part of her? 

The character of the yard is different now that the peach tree is gone. Brightness replaces shade. The umbrella-like canopy on the patio’s edge is no longer there. Mellow notes that once rang from Tara’s chime swaying in its branches are silent.  Only the wind remains. I don’t know why the peach tree picked this day to fall.  Maybe it is trying to tell me it is time to turn loose and move on.

I’m not the only one who mourns the peach tree. The birds do, too. Their world has changed forever, as has mine. They seem to have trouble accepting it. From a nearby bush, a cardinal tilts his head from side to side to get a better view, looking first with the right eye, then the left, as if peering more closely will make the tree and its missing feeder materialize.  I feel sorry for him.  I know it won’t help.

Titmice zoom in on autopilot for their morning visit.  I laugh at the bird equivalent of throwing it into reverse when limbs and feeder fail to materialize.  Flying feathers, furious flapping, and frantic eyes accompany their anything-but-graceful descent. Over and over they circle the spot where the peach tree used to be, each time approaching from a new direction. I know their attempts will continue until they recognize that trying to keep things unchanged is futile. A new way of being will have to evolve as they adjust to life without the peach tree. It won’t ever be the same, but it will become more normal.

That is how it is for me now. Our family circle is closing around the space where Tara used to be and a new normal is evolving. I still find it strange to introduce my son Nevin as my eldest. The age gap between Tara and her younger brother closed on his last birthday.  Next year he will be older than she ever was.  That will never seem normal.

I still don’t how to respond when people ask how many children I have, or how to answer when asked if I am my grandson’s mother, as legally I am, but few inquire now. For most people, the way we are is all they have known.

Confusion mounts in the backyard. The hummingbirds are mad. No longer able to hide in the leaves of the peach tree until the coast is clear, they have no choice but to make a direct approach to their feeder which hangs exposed under the eaves of the house close to the window. Territorial battles rise to a fevered pitch.  Perhaps anger in response to loss is common in the bird world, as it is in ours.

I observe the aerial acrobatics of the hummingbirds and remember my own rage.  I recall every wound and cause for grief. I recount every detail of what happened.  I think of those who played a role in the story, both positive and negative. I remember.  I always will. I think of the birds and wonder if they will forget that the peach tree existed.  I hope they won’t. Every life has significance.

I watch the reaction of the hummingbirds to the peach tree’s death, and I have an epiphany. I am not angry anymore.  I don’t know why.  It’s a peace that passes understanding. 

Sometimes my throat closes and tears come when I least expect them. Sometimes I’m lonely. There isn’t a minute I don’t miss Tara. In the beginning I told the story over and over to anyone who would listen.  I needed to. Each telling was one stir through the messy mix of pain and sorrow, one attempt to incorporate unthinkable events into the ingredients of my life. I don’t talk about it much anymore.  I don’t need to. Each verse, every chapter has blended to become an indistinguishable part of who I am. This is my new normal. 

But, if I want my children and my children’s children to know what I have learned on this journey, the story must be told. And so, dear ones, this is what I want you to hear:

Mine is a saga of suffering. It is also a parable of grace. I pray you will never experience the pain I have. I hope your trials will be few. But if ever you find yourself in the wilderness, remember, my story is your story, too. On the path of suffering I found healing, mercy, transformation, and grace. I discovered redemption is possible, resurrection is real, and I have never been in a place so dark, or so deep, or empty that I didn’t find God waiting for me there. I did not die as I once thought I would. I made it. I emerged from the gray wilderness of grief.  And most of all, dear children of my heart--I can see green again.


“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”~ John 16:33

No comments:

Post a Comment