Like I wrote yesterday, we have two amazing trees behind our house. One reminds me of my son who passed away because it's weak and small. The other tree is a weeping willow--huge, healthy, willing to do anything to shade the smaller tree. It reminds me of how I was when my boy was alive.
So anyway, a windstorm came, the likes of which our town has never seen. I stood, staring through the back window. I couldn't pull my eyes from the little tree, which whipped about.
I finally couldn't take anymore, so I ran upstairs and rested next to Cade. I fell asleep after a while, having fitful dreams that Zeke was on life-support, but when we took him off, he grew into a seven-year-old and screamed at me through a storm, "I didn't want to die. I didn't want to!"
I sat up then, sweating from the nightmare. The house practically rocked from the power of the winds outside. Cade sat up too and splayed the blinds with his fingers. "Holy, cow," he said. "I think our little tree's gonna fly out of the ground or snap in half."
I knelt beside him. As I looked outside, my heart stopped beating. My breath stilled like the day Zeke died. Our little tree's branches wept in the wind. The trunk bent so far, the upper branches touched the ground.
Cade shook his head and lay back in bed, but I couldn't. After he fell asleep again, I tiptoed down to the back door. I still don't know why (maybe it's because the tree is eight, like Zeke would have been), but I decided to go outside.
Now, when I watched the news earlier, the winds were expected to hit 80/85 mph. When I opened the door, it swung back so hard, I jumped away before it hit me. The wind rushed past. I went to the side of the door and hung onto the jamb, just so I could pull myself outside. I struggled for a second, put my hip along the siding and managed to pull the door shut.
I've never been in winds like that, ones which make people question or gain faith.
Nature pushed me straight against the house. As I closed my eyes, I got vertigo and remembered sky diving. I thought of when I'd fallen through the skies, when the air ripped my face, carving it into a jackal's smile. My teeth had frozen then too.
But I wasn't falling this time, I was watching my baby tree die.
I opened my eyes. Branches flailed like a man being tortured. Leaves hit me in the face. The winds changed direction every so often and so did my tree.
I tried running forward, to hold my tree strong, but I slammed into the house again, unable to go anywhere.
I almost screamed then, begging the weeping willow to do something--anything. Hadn't it represented me? Hadn't it always protected the baby tree. Maybe it still symbolized my actions and that's how I was, useless, helpless against nature and God's control.
I just wanted my tree to live . . . I'd just wanted Zeke to live.
I've always wondered how people could watch martyrs die, but now I know. Instead of trying to go back inside, I stayed there and watched. Even though death might come close, snatching someone or something you love, sometimes being a witness to the sacrifice means almost as much as the death. I pictured Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice He must have made. I pictured my son dying in my arms.
My baby tree cracked; one of its limbs flew against the house. I cried then, lamenting over far more than the storm. As I sobbed, the wind stole my tears and my face stayed dry as I wept.
The tree cracked again, another branch twirled oddly, barely hanging on. That's when I couldn't take it anymore.
"God," I screamed, praying into the night. "Don't let it die. Please don't. It reminds me of Zeke, like part of him is still with us as long as this tree's here. Please save it, God! You had to take my son, but don't take this symbol of his life too!"
I waited a moment, held my breath . . . and the wind changed. Although it rushed harder than before, it came from a different direction.
The willow, that strong, peaceful willow bent over, wrapped it's branches around Zeke's tree. I sobbed harder, watching as the big, healthy tree, got the brunt of the attack. Willow branches flew around the yard. It took a harder beating than the baby tree ever had because the new winds sought death.
The baby's branches swayed, then tilted up to a regular position. It danced slightly, but remained unscathed as the willow continued whipping about, fighting with everything it had.
I turned my attention to the huge tree. It was a painful sight, something I'll never forget. Because the willow started dying so the baby could live.
As I stared, watching the willow whose strength went beyond anything, I stopped. It seemed to hug the baby.
Something profound struck my heart.
The willow hadn't represented me. The willow represented God. And the little tree, the one who had such a hard time standing alone, had been me.
I got an overwhelming feeling then; some things happen for a reason to better other people, to give us thankfulness, gratefulness for things we still have.
A voice ran through my mind softer than silk, "I love you, Elisa. I've always been there for you, and I'll never leave you."
The battle raged on, but I found lasting peace through the storm.
God saved my tree that night. He saved both trees, and I realized He'd been looking after them the whole time, just like He's looking out for me
. . . for all of us.
Learn more about Zeke's story here: