Today I have been trying to capture our one-hundred-plus-year-old tree with my two-year-old camera. I can't do it. And I realize as I try one angle and another, one frame and another, it isn't the camera's fault.
The tree was here long before we were here, long before this house was built, and there are so many dreams and hopes caught in its branches and feeding those green, green leaves, that no one lens, no matter how technologically adept, can catch it.
But the tree is struggling to survive. It is dropping branches it no longer has the strength to hold. Those greenest of leaves unfurled slowly this year, and they are smaller and not nearly as profuse as in the past.
We had thought all it needed was a good, thorough pruning to bring it back into shape. But first one expert and then another told us it would have to be removed. I am numb with the news, but once again today it was confirmed. No hope, this tree needs to be put to rest, it has given its all.
Yet I can still sit and look up through its green green branches, focusing only on the new growth and blurring out the obvious stress on all of its main arteries. But I know no cholesterol drug or other remedy can save it.
It is not just a tree, it is a refuge and place of comfort. Our children have climbed these branches, swung on these limbs, sometimes with very big feelings and sometimes longing for what could only be seen from higher up, out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.
Loftier points of view, even from the ground, still reveal themselves as we find pieces of sky through the pattern of leaves. We sit beneath this tree in the hot hot San Fernando Valley summers and feel cooled and restored. We laugh and cry beneath this tree, we share meals and evening wine with good friends and family beneath its branches. Some of those dear souls are no longer here on this earth but I feel the tree still holds their laughter, their tears, still holds that hug from one who loved it so, deep within its rough trunk. That rooted, grounded presence is our anchor.
Time for letting go. I hate it. I know that there will be other trees, and other views of the sky through different leaves, different configurations of branches. But I am already grieving what hasn't quite been lost.
Tomorrow they will tell me how much it will cost to cut and carry away each lovely piece. But for today I will keep trying to capture, with my mind's eye, for future comfort, every single blessing this good and great guardian has so freely given.
A requeim is surely necessary.