Holding hands

The hole had already been dug by the time we arrived, a mound of black soil and broken roots and clay sitting next to it. The Mountain Ash was sitting nearby waiting for its new home, a spot where our friends will readily see it from their living room window. Huddling around the hole was a small group who’d come to plant the tree in honor of our friend’s loss, as a reminder of her father’s life.

The fresh cold air and the scent of soil and wet leaves under the early fall dusting of snow was invigorating, and a stark contrast to the dusty-closet, cardboard-box atmosphere I’d been immersed in for weeks now, packing for our upcoming move. One of those present in this little eclectic group—an impressive eighty-something-year-old—was as invigorating for me as the cold air. He’d purchased the tree and bags of compost and soil and brought large buckets of water (this plot of land on which our friends are building a home has no running water), and carried it all as though it weighed no more than a bag of popcorn.

We fine-tuned the hole and planted the tree, and—aging hippies that we are—stood in a circle around the tree holding hands, and tried to find words with which to honor the crucible our friends had been thrown into with this loss, a loss in this case amplified by its suddenness, and the tormenting questions suicide leaves in its wake.

Afterwards, we went into town for some Vietnamese food, to warm up and fill up and keep our tradition of a glass or two of wine. But before we did that we went inside to look at the pine home our friends are building (which incidentally, turns out to be perfect timing—work and reclusion hold much healing power for them.) This will be perfect, I see: open pine ceilings, trees just outside the windows, the loft already finished to a shine, gleaming. And now a Mountain Ash out the front window, as a reminder of the healing power of love and community, a reminder that our friend’s father lives on, a reminder that although he is no longer physically present, what he has given remains with her forever.


6 thoughts on “Holding hands

  1. Thank you so much for these beautiful words, my friend. The words you spoke around the memorial tree were also very healing and moving. Thank you to each of our beautiful friends who participated in this event and who understand the importance of friendship, the circle, ceremony and the tangible symbol from nature when loss happens. You are all so greatly appreciated.

    • It was lovely out there in the bush with the mud and dusting of snow, wasn’t it? We were glad to be a small part of this experience for you. Much love to you.

  2. Multiple thanks, Connie! First for the fitting note read at our Q- shaped circle, then for the “Holding Hands” follow-up. As for that 80s something fellow, he wasn’t even conscious of doing anything noticeable. It’s true, I’ve been enjoying excellent health. When one keeps feeling as good one day as the day before, then well-being behavior continues without much self-conscious thought. Observations such as yours serve to remind me of my good fortune and inspire appropriate gratitude. The “healing power of love and community” was felt by both of us last evening, despite what Millie is dealing with right now. She appreciated your attentiveness made possible by the seating arrangement at the restaurant.


    • Keep doing what you’re doing, Ike, it’s an inspiration to the rest of us! And love to Millie; it was my pleasure to sit next to her and have a chance to chat.

  3. Thanks Connie, you identified the group initiators (Millie’s suggestion?) and Ike’s energy. Your reflections as we gathered around he tree were pastoral care and spiritual experience for us. Ray
    We were moved as we shared in with friends, a spade, a tree and your reflections on the life and death of Debbie”s father. Thanks to Jeff for showing us the way to the Vietnamese restaurant where we continued to celebrate with stories wit and humor. Ginny

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