I lay there in the dark with my legs feeling heavy. The previous night we went to bed expecting snow. Nature followed through and we got mounds of it. A big, heavy blanket of spring snow.
When I woke it was dark, big flakes falling in that orangey glow of the street light.
I lay still and I stared at the ceiling, my dread-filled heart beating slowly when my phone started to ring.
It was my in-laws, calling in early, asking if it was still going to happen.
Was it still going to happen?
You don’t postpone funerals.
Not even with blizzards and three feet of mushy, heavy spring snow that takes out trees.
Overnight, one of our two tall aspen trees had laid over loudly in the quiet snow.
It’s bulky trunk and magnificent branches now splayed themselves over our driveway, hugging concrete and saying, ” I dare you to try to leave.”
My husband kept fielding calls from people.
So many people asking, “Is it still on?”
I couldn’t answer.
I got dressed in my black dress and scratchy tights. My cousin brushed my hair.
We continued to look out the window and kept thinking, “This storm has to stop soon.”
In suits and ties and dresses and heels, the three of us marched outside and stared at the damn tree.
How were we supposed to get out of the driveway with that thing keeping us in this house? We had to get out. How were we supposed to go to the funeral?
It was still on.
Our kind neighbor was using his snowblower and looked up at us, dressed in all black, and quickly came over to move that heavy snow into piles.
Dylan pulled out of our garage at a precarious angle, and we bounced our way over the snow to the funeral.
The people kept calling to ask.
It was still on.
We went through the motions and mentioned how you could take the boy out of Minnesota, but you couldn’t take the Minnesota out of the boy. Even for his funeral. That boy, grown man, now gone, brought so much snow to his own funeral.
We headed home.
Exhausted from emotion, to-do lists, and people’s empathetic arm squeezes, I wanted to rest, but knew we’d have to face that tree first.
Except, we didn’t.
That same kind neighbor had cut the precious tree to pieces and stacked the remains by the side of our house. Dylan went over later to talk to him, and say thanks, and the kind man said, “It looked like you were heading somewhere pretty important.”
Yes. It was pretty important. That funeral happened.
As a result of that heavy weight, where two trees once stood, now just one permanently tilted as its partner was ripped from the ground.
Two years passed.
I got worried every time it snowed and our neighbor’s truck, parked ever in front of the house, seemed to look over its shoulder at me every time I’d walk in to my home saying “Are you sure you’re going to let that guy lean like that?”
And so, on Saturday, the men brought the trucks and saws and rope and they cut her down. The second half of the tree – the one that fell with the snow on the morning of the funeral. The one that was still on.
They cut her down, even though she was standing bravely, without her friend.
I almost cried as they chopped that beautiful, living tree into pieces. I stood in our front window and thought, “Thank God it’s not snowing. We cut it down in time.”
There were buds on the branches. It would have bloomed again.
We’ve got piles of wood on the side of the house again, and now a bench made of the trunk.
I hate that we cut down a living thing that was just living it’s life at an altered angle. It was just trying to reach for the sun.
And yet, sometimes we have to rip things out of the ground for our own safety. We have to cut things up that no longer are good for us, take what was and make it into something new.
The beautiful process of recognizing you can’t postpone some things and move forward by taking actions where you can.
We will plant more trees and they will grow and shade us and bring fresh oxygen into our lungs.
You just have to do the beautiful cutting first.