The Blue Spruce
You woke up crying, sobs working their way through your body. You'd breathe, take your thumb and then moments later another would follow.
I didn't know if you were awake or asleep, but when I heard you and came in the room you had been sitting up.
"What hurts?" I kept asking. You didn't answer.
"Does something hurt?" I was confused, and worried.
You finally told me your bum did and I thought maybe you needed to go the bathroom, so we walked through the quiet house to the bathroom.
You sat and peed. The sobs fading. And I thought, "Is this how she's going to learn to hold her pee when she sleeps?"
I picked you back up and stood in the tower room holding you against my body.
Tower room. Makes my childhood home sound big and impressive. And it is, it was. A small house turned in to a family home for growing children, for welcoming visitors, for fitting hundreds of people when needed. Like funerals.
I rocked back and forth, your body soft in my arms as you breathed.
I looked out at the blue spruce and thought of how small it once was. Of my brother and father standing next to it. How miniature it was then, how I would never have thought it would reach the size it is now. Big and fat and beautifully perched on the edge of the rock wall.
I thought of how my Dad held me like this. And how he never held his grandchildren.
I stood and watched the tree. Felt your body. Thought about all the circles of life and where they lead you.
I stood where my Dad took his last breath. I stood and held you, my growing child and felt your breathing. Your steady, consistent, sleeping breath. I know how fragile life is. And I don't run away from it. You can't. Isolation is more painful than living and loving deeply knowing it can all be gone far sooner than you'd expect, or want, or think.
You moved and moaned. Upset again.
I walked you back to the bedroom. I laid with you, careful to move slowly away after you'd fallen back to sleep.
Later, you'd wake again and your Dad would walk up to soothe you. And soon after, I'd climb in to bed next to you. Moving your warm, sleep filled body to make room for mine.
And when I'd ask your Dad about it later his response would be, "Well she'll be in her bed tonight." and I thought, sure that makes sense and being in our arms was what you needed.
It is kind of what we always need. Which is why loss stays with you.
Which is why watching that tree and thinking about time was what captured me in that moment in a way it hadn't before.
A tree I've moved around for 11 years since my Dad died. A house I've been in hundreds of times since.
But that evening, in the tower room, with her in my arms, and the landscape in front of me, the loss returned. And not in a sobbing on the floor kind of way. In a, I live with loss and it is a part of me kind of way. I live with loss and I love deeper because of it, kind of way. And that is a good reminder.
That spruce has grown. And I have. I've grown round with two children and birthed them and raised them. I've grown wiser and older. And he hasn't seen any of it. But in that moment, holding my child, he knows because he's a part of me. He can't hold my children, he can't hold me, but in my arms are his, rocking with me, watching that tree and marveling at its size.