"I wrote a poem about that tree."
I said it thoughtfully as I watched the men clean up the fallen willow.
It weeps no more. Or it weeps even more. Who knows how the willow weeps when it's gone? When its leaves, always reaching for the ground, find themselves lost among it?
The day before, I watched one of my very best friends drive away from my house, into the sunset it seemed, on to new horizons. Her husband took a job far away, or perhaps not that far, but too far for sledding or painting or leaf-jumping or knitting. The children, desperate to stay together that day as long as possible, asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up. They know us. They anticipated a very long, drawn out, philosophical conversation during which they could run through the yard and become elusive as mice. But we just laughed. And then she thew her arms open wide and yelled it loudly, in the street, "I'm going to be the best friend there ever was!"
And I knew it was true.
The painters work hard outside, re-painting and re-doing all that has been lost to the weather and the midwest temperatures. I make them cookies, the one with the beard and the one with the toothless smile, and I remind them the dogs will eat the cookies if they do not eat them first. They laugh.
I wonder how I'll get it all done, and why I do it at all, and a little girl crawls into my lap and I know her childhood is rushing past, faster than I can fathom.
Then I remember. It all falls apart. The house deteriorates, the willow weeps its last, the child grows, the friend moves on, and what's left is a shadow of what was. A silhouette...a still shot of the past, outlined and hazy from years of wear.
A poem of our life bound up in memories and leaves and I wonder about the poetry of days yet to come.
I stare at the place where the tree stood and hope they plant another in its place. The painters pack up their things and move on to the next house, weathered and beaten down by life.
My friend leaves in three days and I smile as I think of her new adventures, the poetry she will bring to her new town and the silhouette she leaves here.
It's the past we love or hate, for which we yearn or that which we abhor. Usually, for most of us, it's a little of both. But it's the embracing of all that has passed, of loving our today because of those who have made it, that is, perhaps, our most important endeavor. Whether it's the willow that weeps us into life or the friend that loves us to a place of weeping, may we always love our story, the poetry of life knitted together with words and leaves and experiences cradled deep within us.