Mike's Tree

Thank you for all the calls and texts and emails and posts. I always think there's no way that people are reading this anymore - given the infrequency of my posts these days -- but there you are!

So, get this crazy story:

For months I have thought that I want to plant a tree for mike in our backyard with his ashes in the soil underneath. I thought about doing it on the anniversary of his death - but that just doesn't feel right. Finally a couple of months ago, I figured that planting it on our anniversary would be ideal.

The problem was, I couldn't seem to get my act
together to go get the tree. Everytime I imagined going to purchase the tree, I imagined having the hassle with the people who worked at the store, having to pay for it and struggling to get it to my car, wondering if it would fit blah blah blah. It made the whole thing seem so... ordinary and tied to the bullshit of normal life. I felt like all that would take the beauty away from the experience. So, I never went.

Wednesday, June 13th (day before anniversary), I
'm in my office at Delaware and Heide calls me.

"Hey, you working?"

"Yeah, I'm at the office."

"Oh.. that's too b
ad. I was going to ask if you wanted to take a little trip with me to a nursery out in Marlton."

"A nursery?"

Now, Heide had no idea about my tentative tree plan. None at all.

"Yeah." "

Do they have trees there?"

"Ummm.. yeah. It's a nursery! Can I pic
k something up for you?"

So, I told her the whole thing -- she agreed that this was a weird weird coincidence. I asked her to look for magnolias and cherry trees and to ca
ll me from the place.

the record - no one has EVER randomly called me to ask if I want to go to or need anything from a plant nursery. This was just weird.

So, she calls me from the place and she says she has found a magnolia... but even better, she says, is a different ornamental tree she's found... she says it's called a "crepe myrtle," but she's never heard of it before.

"Oh my god. I know what those are," I say, "They have that two-toned bark, right? almost like camouflage or something."

"Well, this one doesn't, but it's young. Let me look a
t the tag...... Yes! 'Crepe Myrtles famous for their cinnamon colored and spotted bark and for large beautiful blooms in the summer.'"

"This is so weird, " i say.

Why is this weird?

Well, recall that trip to Charleston, SC that Mike and I took in early March of last year - The one that he refused to postpone? The one that basically delayed his radiation therapy? The one where I realized that he was so not right... getting lost, overdrawing our bank account, sleeping 16 hours a d

There were a few beautiful moments during that trip. My favorite was a horse-drawn carriage ride we took through the historic district. And on that ride, Mike was struck by these trees - these intricate, sculpture-like trees with two-tones of bark.

He even asked
the driver (we were in the front), "What are these trees? they are amazing."

"Those are crepe myrtles, my friend. Charleston is famous for them. As beautiful without the leaves as they are when they're in full bloom. They're like nature's artwork, aren't they?"

So... that's the tree that Heide found.
She delivered it to my driveway - so I didn't have any hassle involved at all.

Yesterday morning, my friend Colin (longtime friend who just moved to Philly) dug the hole. CSM and Michelle kept the morning full of laughter and helped fill in the hole around the tree with me.

It was the first time since last fall that I had opened up the box of Mike's ashes. And I had never actually touched his ashes before. It felt so good to hold him in my hand. The ashes were so fine, like dust, but with chunks of his bones in them. I sobbed so hard, I couldn't breathe. Michelle wiped my face with her sweatshirt as I held Mike in my hand. I had a sudden urge to be in the bag of ashes - or to cover myself in them - or maybe even consume them somehow. It was a feeling of closeness to him that I wanted to make last forever.

But instead, I t
ook a few handfuls and spread them around the base of the tree. We hadn't yet completely filled in the hole, so the ashes were about 4 inches down into the ground. Then we filled it in, mulched around it, and watered it.

My afternoon was a lovely time with Miss Wah in my old Queen Village hood getting pedicures and laughing so much. It was the perfect post-burying activity.

I picked bax up from sch
ool and introduced him to Daddy's tree. He loves it. He knows it's special. He even kissed it.

Julie and Jack stopped by to check in. Carrie came over at dinner time with champagne and chinese food in hand. She took the lead on bax's bedtime routine because I was just so tired. She cleaned up the kitchen and we sat on the porch in our jackets because it was so chilly.

Quite a day. As odd as it seems, I consider myself to be so very lucky. I am taken care of by such wonderful peop
le. I just hope that I can give back as much as has been given to me.

love, danna


Anonymous said...

Of course we check the blog! Everyone simply loves you so.

I still say your wedding was the best I've ever attended. I too felt sad yesterday. (I think we all do with July right around the corner.)

But what a happy happy day your wedding day. Pure. Joy.


annab said...

thanks for sharing such a special moment danna. the tree is beautiful.

Jalena said...

I think everyone is still here. I think eveyone will be here for a long time to come. You have a future and Bax is wonderful and we want to watch him/you grow some more!!
Now,as you know, I am in the south. Personally have two crepe myrtles growing in my front flower beds. Some people grow them as you have planted yours, as a bush, but not many. Most people strip the bottom of them up to the bushy part so that you can see the branches as they come out and up. They are not a straight item. That way you get the sculpture effect and get to enjoy not only the glorious blooms but also the bark and the shape. It will put out new growth on the the bottom each year and it takes about 5 mintues to just pull them off. What color did you get? I have white and purple here but the red is glorious. That will be my next one!! Enjoy your tree and if you ever move, take it with you!! They transplant well. You couldnt have picked any better my girl. I guess I never noticed them as I was growing up, they may not grow well or just arent popular in Nashville but I do remember seeing them everywhere in Va. one year. When I moved here, they were here!! I LOVE them!! Some bloom pretty much all summer. Some bloom earlier than others. But whatever time it blooms, you are going to be in love.

Anonymous said...

Oh baby, happy happy times. I remember dearly the martha stewart like prep for your wedding and how you sewed rosebuds (?) on a veil yourself. We just planted 3 crepe myrtles in our backyard too. coincidence? I think of you daily and love seeing pictures of that boy turning into a little man.
all my love,

scott said...

of course i'm still here and reading!

congrats on making through this and making it meaningful!

scott c

Anonymous said...

And it's not just friends and relatives that still read your blog. There are plenty of us blog-a-holics who relate to your blog from having lost someone and connect with you in a totally anonymous way. I check it every day with the list of my other blogs. It's been part of my grief recovery, really. You just don't know how good it feels to know someone out there understands what it's like to go through this. Thanks for the honesty.

Anonymous said...

Your wedding day feels like yesterday looking at those photos. It was magical how the clouds parted just in time for nuptuals and celebrating! We're thinking of you all the time.


Liz, Scott & Noah

karenle893 said...

I love Crepe Myrtles
and I love, love you!!!
I can't wait to come over and see Mike's tree.


Tuesday Girl said...

Beautiful tree and beautiful memories.

raxiro said...

Interesante lugar linda familia y excelentes amistades. ok