Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Two Trees in the Storm

 As I sat here today thinking about my terminal cancer diagnosis, I remembered something that happened in 2014 on the anniversary of my first son's death. Isn't it strange how miracles can dot the path of life, so we can overcome future obstacles?

Two trees stood at the back of my old house, guarding it through the days and nights. One, a massive willow, felt like the heart of my world, strong and everything I hoped to be. The second tree grew to be a wisp of a thing, always struggling to live. It might sound bizarre, but it somehow began reminding me of Zeke—my boy who died at the children's hospital.

A knot formed in my stomach. I'd had to take my son off of life support, and it hurt more than anyone will ever know. The moments flashed through my mind, and I struggled for breath. I could see him fighting so hard to live even as life finally left his little body. Why did the memories still hurt after so many years?

I got my four kids to bed that night and knelt next to the couch. "God," I prayed, trying to find the good, "thank you… for everything you've given me, even if you had to take some things away."


My gaze turned to the back window. Darkness blanketed the outside world, but the porch lights shone on my special trees, and I watched as they jerked back and forth in a vigorous wind. Local news stations warned residents that "the worst windstorm of the century" would hit us that night and winds would reach 85 mph.


I worried for the tree that reminded me of Zeke as thunder boomed, shaking the entire house. I almost wished it would've woken my four kids up—I needed the distraction—but they could probably sleep through the apocalypse. My eyes remained glued to our backyard where the little tree's branches wept in the wind. The trunk bent so far that the upper branches touched the ground, and I couldn't take it anymore.

The back door swung so hard when I opened it, and I had to clutch the doorframe just to pull myself outside. It felt strange, having nature push me straight against the house, reminding me of sky diving, when I'd fallen through the skies and the air carved my face into a jackal's smile. But I wasn't falling this time, I was watching my baby tree… die. 

I tried running forward to hold my tree strong, but the wind slammed me into the house, pinning me there. Couldn't the large weeping willow do something—anything? Hadn't it always protected the baby tree just like I'd protected my son? Maybe both of us were helpless against nature and God's control.  


My baby tree cracked, and when one of its limbs flew against the house, the wind stole my tears. The tree cracked again, and 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 actually changed. Although it rushed harder than before, it came from a different direction.


The strong, peaceful willow bent over and wrapped its branches around Zeke's tree. I sobbed harder, watching as the bigger 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... just so the baby could live.


Something profound struck my heart. The willow hadn't represented me. The whole time, the willow had represented God. And the little tree, the one who had such a hard time standing alone, had been… me. 


An overwhelming truth hit me: Some things happen for a reason to strengthen people, to give us thankfulness and gratefulness for things we still have. 


The battle raged on, but I found lasting peace through that 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—and for all of us.

1 comment:

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