I had been thinking about Henry's tree, the peach tree I planted for his first birthday, before I knew that peach trees are hard to grow. Vicki was talking about the Japanese magnolia that she got as a gift when her son Evan died, and I thought of Henry's two trees, the hawthorne that's thriving and the peach tree that has struggled.
The danger, of course, of planting a living thing as a memorial is that it will die. And in some ways this is not so terrible. What's a tree compared to your baby? But really it seems awful, one more bit of death, one more failure, one more thing that didn't work out.
Henry's tree is planted in our backyard, a companion to the peach tree we got as a wedding gift. Our wedding tree got off to a good start. Then two summers ago, leaves yellowed and began to fall in early summer. Exploring, we found the lower trunk being liquified. We thought the culprit was a peach tree borer, though further research suggests more likely a rust of some sort. Last year, our wedding tree lost its fruit and then its leaves and then stood there starkly, naked, dead. This is no metaphor, no symbol, despite the statistics. Brian and I are doing fine, though there was a period last spring when all of our communication felt like a challenge or a debate.
As our tree slowly failed, I watched Henry's tree, wondering if it would succumb to the same fate. The leaves yellowed some, and I found a soft spot on the trunk. I sighed and waited for the inevitable.
The other day, I noticed the faint pink buds swelling on Henry's tree the other day. Now they have burst wide open.
Hope in bloom.