I meant to talk about it, but then I became ashamed of the whole thing. Ashamed of not saying anything profound. Ashamed because I didn't even search for a beautiful poem. Nor a snippet of a song. Not even a seventeen syllable haiku. I couldn't even muster a "This tree is for Lucy." We didn't cry, not then. We had been crying all weekend. But when we planted the tree, no tears. We didn't do anything really but dig a hole, chase the puppy away from our work, talk about what we were doing for dinner. We initially invited my sister and her family and my mother over for the planting. I was going to sprinkle some of her ashes. Say something. Say anything. But then, on the phone with my mother the day before, she said something to the effect, "Oh, I'm glad you are doing this, because I really needed a funeral and you didn't have one." And then, I knew. I couldn't make this a funeral. I couldn't even make it a memorial. I couldn't even see anyone. So, in addition to being a lousy babyloss mama, I also was a lousy sister and daughter on Mother's Day. I barely mustered a call to both of them. But I decided this year, I allow myself the selfishness. I allow myself the wallowing. I fucking earned it. And I absolutely could not make this something it wasn't. I was planting a tree. I wanted something beautiful in my yard to label Lucy's Space. Maybe even one day, it will be a meditation space, but I didn't want a ritual.
This isn't like me. I love ritual.
There are so many reasons I didn't want to make this something more. One reason is that I am simply not ready to let go of any of Lucy's ashes. I may never release her ashes. I want my baby with me, even if it is in a little urn. (Shit. That made me lose it. Just writing little urn.) But it is true. I want her ashes in my house. Sitting in my living room. Right where we always are. Reading some Shel Silverstein with her sister and her parents.
Beatrice and I water Lucy's tree everyday. A lot. When I went to pick the tree out on Mother's Day, we walked around the nursery, looking at different trees. I wanted a Weeping Cherry Tree, for obvious reasons. Sam wanted something fast growing to shade our deck. Finally, someone came up and asked us what we were looking for, and I, weary from walking around and around in circles not finding anything beautiful enough for Lucia, said to the man, "Let me be blunt. My daughter died. I want a tree for her. Help us pick a tree that is idiot proof that I simply cannot kill. If I kill this tree, it will defeat the whole point of this." He looked non-nonplussed. He directed us appropriately, like he heard just this sort of request everyday. When we got home and decided on the perfect place, we began digging. Mounds of dirt, and our girl and the dog running up and down the piles giggling. Then clunk.
Clunk. Again. "What was that?" Clunk.
Dear Lord, please do not let it be a coffin.
It is what I thought. Please. Don't let it be anything dead. And I got on my hands and knees and dug my hands in the dirt, started brushing the dirt away from the three foot wide hardness. Brush. Brush. Tears fell a bit as I imagined the worst. I became frantic. Did I mention that FBI agents used to live in my house? I was expecting something...lurid. Something ugly. Something dead.
It was a sidewalk.
We uncovered a strange, misplaced, handmade concrete walkway UNDER a foot of soil in my backyard. Not just in my backyard, in the middle of the yard. Where was it going? I began pulling pieces of concrete out, and laying it on the brick path in our backyard. I sprayed it with water, and examined the concrete. Someone made this. A very long time ago. With their hands. Someone made a path to Lucy's tree. Maybe 80 years ago, when this house was built, they thought someday someone will plant a tree here, for their girl. Her tree is where the sidewalk ends.
And so, if I had to do it again, I might read Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.