Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Memory Tree

Shortly, after Caitlin died, a group of people my DH works with gave us a beautiful card to purchase a tree or shrub to plant in memory of our sweet daughter. I couldn't do it. I had received other plants from people and they died (I can't tell you how that sent me over the edge.). Well, not all died the Christmas cactus gaves blooms around Caitlin's birthday and that was amazing, but other plants given, no matter where I put them and tried hard to water them just right---decided not to stick around. I was truly worried about this tree thing. I didn't want to just dig a hole in the ground and plant something. And what would I plant? What if I chose something that doesn't like the weather here. If I planted something so significant, and it died within the year . . . well, I didn't want to think about it.

Well, since then I've gotten much stronger in carrying my grief. And, I'm more able and willing to translate my love for Caitlin into the symbolic planted tree. I wanted to be sure it made sense and didn't look out of place. So, I went to the nursery where the card was given--it had been over a year, so I was worried. But the nursery is a small privately own nursery and I just blurted the story as is the way I am. He came out to our home, took some measurements and created a plan for some decorative landscaping, and today I saw the plan. It's simple, with plants that are hearty and flower and bring color and scent to the area.

And there is a tree. He tells me that the tree will flower, show fall colors, and over time the bark becomes beautiful shades of color---almost like a painter's palette. I told him that I wasn't sure about the tree. "You can use your gift card for the tree, if you wish," he says staring intently at the computer screen. I sat there and thought about it, and realized that the rest of the landscaping was to make the tree make sense. He chose the tree first for Caitlin, just as I had requested: Something hearty, something unique, something that would fit into the landscape like we wanted our daughter to fit into our lives. I felt a bit stupid that I hadn't realized it to begin with, after all that's why I went to the nursery--to find a tree to plant for Caitlin.

He led me to see the young tree that would be planted and then, "let me show you what it will look like after many years." So, we walked over to a tree on the property, that had been there for years. It was beautiful, and the bark was smooth to touch and the subtle colors were as he described. The tree seemed to symbolize that beauty continues to grow with age and weathering the elements. And that's what has been happening to my heart since becoming a mother.


  1. This is beautiful - and I loved until your heart was ready. I'm sure you've read of my connection with Emma's bush. Nature can be very reassuring or devestating...just like life.


  2. Your words are breathtakingly beautiful. They have lifted me tonight, a night that has my heart feeling heavy and hurt. Thank you for relieving some of my sadness. Thank you.

  3. What a sweet man. It sounds like he put a lot of thought and care into his selections. What is the tree called? I love the bark. It's beautiful.

  4. The bark of that tree is beautiful. I can't wait to see pictures.

    I understand what you mean about having a tree as a memorial being daunting. We have a weeping cherry tree that is very sacred to us, and we have a potted ficus tree as well. We neglected the ficus over summer and one day the wind literally blew all its leaves off! We were mortified! After a couple weeks intensive care though it came back and is now lush and thriving. But yes, I understand the fear you have of it dying. It represents so much.

    I hope Caitlin's tree grows strong and proud. I hope it brings you comfort, especially when it flowers, the way Jordan's tree does for me.


  5. The tree, like Caitlin, is beautiful.

  6. Just lovely - all of it - your story and the tree. What kind of tree? I love the bark, it is like a painters pallet.
    I hope this adds another place of peace to connect with Caitlin.

  7. It is a beautiful tree. Good choice.

    I would like to know what kind it is too. In Australia we have hundreds of varieties of Eucalypts, one is called a spotted gum and it looks a bit similar to Caitlins tree. It has lots of nectar and it makes good honey.