Having plenty of time to myself today, my thoughts turned to a dear friend who died a couple of months ago from cancer, leaving behind her husband and two small children.
A mutual friend said something that chimed with me – that she wished she was religious and could believe our friend had a continuing existence somehow, but that she couldn’t and that the death just seemed like an ending. It feels this way to me and time spent trying to make sense of an senseless event simply takes me in circles.
As I tramped through the dripping, misty and almost deserted nursery, with unusual space and time to think, I got to thinking about planting a tree as a kind of tribute to my friend, or at least as something to hang my memories on, a physical substitute for her physical absence. I was taken for a moment with the idea and energised by the possibility of doing something practical to mark her passing.
But try as I might I couldn’t quite make the idea work – in my mind the two things, her death and the growth of a tree, seem unconnected: how could the growth of a tree redeem the cruelty of her untimely death?
I decided in the end that I would find a tree (it’s a plum) and that it should go in a spot we had not so far intended for one. Right now it seems an empty gesture at best, but perhaps, just perhaps, as time passes I will come to regard it as something of value which will provoke happiness as well as sorrow
If know people often take comfort from tributes of this kind, so I’m going to go through the motions and perhaps by doing so I will invest this tree with a meaning that I can’t find elsewhere.