Sunday, December 11, 2011

the knot of a tree

It is morning. The sky is pink.

It is mourning. My sky is black. My arms grow like grape vines, winding around all I love, weaving into the tree we planted for her, in the hair of my boy and his sister. I feel something more than grief, something like a chasm of hurt in me. Every piece of my life falls into it. Every hurt goes in there, screaming and grasping for ground.

I pour the coffee. It is morning. The lights slices through the clouds like a ladder. Oranges and pinks and weeping and hunger. Sometimes I believe in heaven simply by dint of the beauty above. Something besides the cold and emptiness that science insists are the only thing residing there, something like the beautiful essence of our collective conscience, should control that light and live there.

Beezus asks me if her sister is big now or if she is still little. She gestures with her arms, open and then brings her hands together in the size of a newborn. And I say that she is neither. She is just ash and bone. She is dead and not growing anymore. I tell her we can look at the ruins of her sister. Lucy is in a jar on the shelf.  We could pour her out on an earthenware plate, and see if she is still there, in the white of who she once was.

It feels inappropriate to say this to a child, but I want her to know that her spirit isn't in the jar, just the shell of her is. She is somewhere else, somewhere within us and outside of us. She is the wind and the breath and the whispers and the phone falling off the wall. She is the ladybug and the hummingbird and the moss in our terrariums. Some people believe that babies who die turn into angels, but in God's world, angels were never human, they were warriors. I ask her what she thinks.

She tells me very matter of factly that she thinks when people die, they go into the trees.

"That is why it is very important to hug trees."

God speaks through other people, maybe God speaks through you. Maybe God speaks through Beezus. Maybe God was speaking through the people who have told me that I am a horrible person. Or the ones that insinuate that grief is something different than love.


I know I have said this before, but I am grateful.

Not that she died. But that I had somewhere to go when she died. I am grateful for the ones who can hear her name, and bear witness to our struggles without judgment. I am grateful to my friends who love my children, all of them. I am grateful there are trees to house our children, and children to tell the story of the earth to us.

She died.

Almost three years ago now. It feels like I can count my grief in rings. The years of famine and grief and withering mark me, gnarled and grey. I looked dead once, but I am green again. I have a knot in the middle of me that small rodents crawl into and make a home. The knot feels like a hole, but it is a home. I must remember it. I cry again and know that the tears carve something like a chasm of love. They formed the knot and the hole and the gulf between before and after and everything falling inside of it.


  1. in some magical way you transform your pain into something beautiful and it is love. thank you.

  2. Breathtakingly, heart-wrenchingly gorgeous.

    Sending you a hug, Angie.

    Beezus makes me want to hug a tree.

  3. So beautiful. Thank you Angie. And can you thank Beezus too?

  4. I believe what Beezus says ... I love that. Beautiful post Angie.

  5. Thank you for sharing your child's wisdom. I love what Beezus shared with you, and that you in turn shared it and your response to it with us. Beautiful. (((Hugs)))

  6. As we both approach the birthdays of our babies, Lucy & Joseph, I will read this over and over and over again this week Angie. What beautiful words and such an honest way of explaining to Beezus where Lucy might be. I never really know what to say to my kids about where Joseph may be.
    Thanks for posting this beautiful piece. Missing Lucy with you Angie. xo

  7. This is a beautiful piece, Angie. Thank you.

  8. Not horrible, not at all. Loving. Why is it so hard for people to understand that you don't get over love? (Like my MIL, who recently asked me if it wasn't "time to play it down now"--"it" being Ben's death, and "play it down" in relation to my 3rd child, James, telling her he misses his brother.)

  9. I loved that Beezus got what you meant, and her certainty about trees. I will carry that thought around with me tomorrow and look at trees differently. Almost three years. Ah me. Sending you love. Thanks again for a beautiful post, and for being here are writing your soul out for us too.

  10. This especially speaks to me this week. Thankful for you, and Bea. and of course Thor and Lucy. All of you.

  11. Your Beezus is a wise child. And this is a beautiful post. So much love to you.

  12. Stunning words, Angie... love and strength to you as you approach beautiful Lucia's birthday. xx

  13. " Maybe God was speaking through the people who have told me that I am a horrible person. "

    No. Whoever or whatever God might be, God is not speaking through anyone saying you are a horrible person.


  14. Oh my goodness. Breathtaking.
    Thank you Angie, and thank you Beezus.
    Wisdom well beyond your years.

  15. Beezus may want to hug trees, but I want to hug Beezus. And you.

  16. Gosh am a mess of tears. I haven't been in blog world for a while. My computer and internet are broken. Then I get on here and I cry. I can't help it. I think I have been trying to escape. trying to not dwell on the death, be grateful, choose happiness, which I do Every Day. But the thing about the death of a daughter is, it is impossible not to dwell, because they are dead and we miss them. I agree with Bezus, our babies must have gone to the trees.

  17. Beautiful. We also planted a tree for our girl. It is a beautiful, peaceful spot, and her ashes have become part of the tree. My almost 6-year-old hugs the tree whenever we visit. In October, while lighting a candle for her sister, she said "I wish she were here so I can hug her instead of a tree." Children have a way to cut right through to the core of our grief.

  18. xoxo. thinking of you and lucy. xoxo.


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