Woe is me! I have betrayed my friend of 27 years! Fifteen years ago, when he was ailing badly, I hugged him and told him that I loved him, and gave my heart to him. I encouraged him to live, to flourish, to hang on and be with me forever. The doctor did his best,
-Probably a good five years, was his guess.
It's been 15...
Thru thick and thin, there he was:
Strong. Surviving. Sheltering.
Sunday evening as we tucked into bed, we had the windows closed, air-conditioning pumping. Heat and humidity make for difficult night's sleeping and we needed to be good for the 'morrow. About two o'clock in the morning, Hubby gets up, turns off the fan, opens the bedroom window.
-What are you doing? It's so hot.
-But, it's the last night with him. I want to hear him moving in the wind.
Breakfast outside in our pajamas, with food on a tray, our last few moments together. Taking pictures, trying not to cry (my eyes are moist now as I recount the scene).
Before we were ready (would we ever be?) there was the death squad. Marching forward in their day-glow uniforms, overalls, helmets, face-guards and weapons, armed with sharps and tethers, Katrina and Steve began to assess their best line of approach. It had begun.
I retreated indoors, not wanting to be there for the first assault.
It took many hours. Step by step, the agents of destruction did their work and our friend succumbed to the inevitable. We saw for ourselves how diseased and in pain he was, but it was little consolation. He was gone. His stalwart form, his shade and shelter, his presence and ultimately, his menace were all gone. No longer would we cringe in fear at each great wind, waiting to see if he would weather the storm. The danger of a disaster was over, but he left a void in his wake.
Soon a replacement will take his place, but he will not be forgotten. He has served as a goal post in winter hockey, a hiding spot for hide and seek, a touch-stone in tag, a sentinel for kite flying, a witness for anniversary parties, weddings, and birthdays, a headstone for our first dog's grave site. We miss him already. Our backyard is naked without him. I feel like a Judas, having given him over to the axe. Perhaps birthing a new tree will exonerate me, ameliorate the pain and redeem the void.