There were a pair of spruce trees in my neigbourhood, grew up side by side, entwined. The wind storm last fall took one down, and the remaining one, having spent decades growing in a shared space, stands now with an implied emptiness of the tree fallen. A space made up of places where branches used to overlap; now there’s only half as many, standing alone. It always seems to me a poignent reminder of what a life shared looks like, and what it’s like to carry on alone.
I lost someone I love this week. 95 years, he’d lived a life that was long and full. A decade ago he lost his wife, and that now-solo tree stands and tells the story of what that must have been like for him. Sometimes the second half of a couple doesn’t stay long in this world after they’ve lost the companion of a lifetime; but sometimes, like that leaning tree, they still stand strong for years afterwards. They continue to grow, fill out a bit in the spaces left behind, but the shape of who they are will always be influenced by the life they shared. He carried on, living the life he loved; but like the space implied by those empty branches, the space where his wife used to be was always there, filled with memories and references to the life they shared. — My favourite story is the night he first met her; it was at a dance, and after he took the woman he had come with home (always the gentleman!) how he came back for the woman he would eventually marry; he told that story over and over again.
We celebrated the life he lived, so much of it shared with the woman he loved, and we said goodbye. After so many years of standing strong without his wife, his own life is now done. And somehow I feel those trees are back together somewhere, growing strong.