Monday, October 19, 2009


I love trees. Tall and strong. Limbs intertwine to make a beautiful and unique individual. I think of one particular tree today. Its trunk is charred, as if someone tried to burn it down. And about a foot off the ground there are hack marks where someone definitely tried to chop it down. The tree reminds me of a favorite painting of Colby's, a gnarled, leafless tree on a backdrop of yellow and gold.

This past spring, when I first saw the tree, I thought it was dead, barren. I was sure I was right when the other trees around it leafed out and this tree kept its branches bare against the sky. Then one day I notice, on a branch about 10 feet above me, a new leaf, still half furled, spring green against the light blue sky. And then there was another leaf, and another and by late spring this tree was in all its glory, hundreds, thousands, of bright green leaves shading the ground below.

Colby was like that tree. A late bloomer in many ways. Many people tried to cut him down: teachers, youth leaders, counselors. Yet when he blossomed, he was beautiful in all his glory. But some trees are stronger than others. The oak can withstand a storm far better than a silver maple. In that way, Colby was like a silver maple. Wondrous while here, but not able to stay around very long. And like a tree, he crashed suddenly. Able, capable, beautiful one day, then the ravages of storms, wind and time take their toll. In an instant, he is gone.

I think of the tree and marvel that it had the strength to defy the odds, to survive under extreme duress. I  realize that I, too, am like that tree, as are all the other parents who have lost children. It has been a very rough few days. The churning waves of panic have threatened to take over several times but I held that tree in my vision, my sights, my thoughts. If it can survive, then so can I. So. Can. I.

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