April 20, 2011

The Tree

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:09 pm by letterstoelias

As I mentioned in my last post, there is another element to the ‘anniversary’ day, now just 4 2 days away (well, really 1 now, since I ended up finishing this so late) – though it’s a bit of a ‘double-whammy’ for me, as the 21st is equally as hard . . . seeing as that day was the last of everything, the day it all came crashing down, and it was only the wee hours of the 22nd that it was ‘official’.  So, really, both days suck.

I don’t know that I could ever quite put feelings into words they way Kim does – but it feels a little lot like this.

The girls are feeling it too.  I’m sure a big part of C’s ‘highly emotive state’ lately (ie tantrum city) has to do with just being 3 1/2, I can’t help but feel she’s affected by it a lot these days too*.  She has been talking about Daddy and dying lately, telling complete strangers that her Daddy died, etc – but the tantrums are wearing me down right now (good thing she’s so damn cute and funny – though it’s hard that Elias is missing out on that, as he would have appreciated it so).  And E made me a card at school yesterday, in the shape of a heart, that read “I know it’s hard to miss someone we love” – and she was sure to tell me that she wrote ‘we’ because she misses Daddy too.  She’s shed a few tears in the past few days as well.

The conversations I get to have with my kids . . .  and, I worry so much about finding the right balance with how much to talk/not talk about what’s going on and my feelings, etc., not wanting to ruin them by going too much either way.

* * * * *

If you haven’t already figured this out about me, I’m quite into symbolism.  I like things to have meaning, even if only to myself.  My hummingbird tattoo is not just because they are pretty birds, for example.

The tree which is in the logo for my store, was no accident either.  It is a weeping cherry tree – chosen for it’s symbolism – and with the help of my brilliant sister-in-law, we worked it into the logo beautifully (at least, I think so).

So, when out for a walk at the local gardening store a couple weeks back, I was immediately struck by a lonely little tree at the back of the greenhouse area.  I walked up to it, certain I was going to see ‘Japanese Weeping Cherry’ on the tag, but instead found the words ‘Prunus Serrulata Shidarezakura’, or something of the sort.

Seeing as I’m not a botanist or latin major, I then wasn’t 100% certain the tree was what I was hoping it to be, but I felt in my heart it was.  I couldn’t get it off my mind, so I went back a day or two later and asked for a pen and paper to write the name down.  A quick google search at home confirmed it – a weeping cherry.  The day after that, I rushed home from work, threw the girls in the wagon and practically ran to the garden store before it closed to bring it home . . . .

Now, it is sitting in my backyard, waiting to be planted.  It’s not too big just yet – quite small, really.  But it will be nice to watch it grow.  My initial hope was that Elias’ family would be able to come for the lantern ceremony on the 22nd, then we could work together in the garden on the 23rd and all plant the tree together.  Since it seems confirmed that only one Aunt and her family are going to come (the same who were here at spring break), there won’t be the ‘garden party’.  As such, I then thought the girls and I would plant it together in the morning of the 22nd.

As I was working in the garden today on Sunday (for almost 7hrs) getting the area prepped for the tree, along with trying to make the whole front garden bed look as nice as possible for when the tree is in – the thought occurred to me that I may even just do it on my own.  I know the girls would probably enjoy it to a certain extent (especially E, who has started referring to herself as ‘Nature Girl’), but I had also planned to take them down to the beach in the morning as we had done last year, so we could have something that was just for ‘us’.  We’ll also have the lantern ceremony, of course, too.  So, maybe the tree planting can be just for me.  We’ll see.

And, the symbolism?  The cherry tree, for many in Japan, symbolizes “the transience of life” primarily due to the short blooming time of the trees. The fallen blossoms on the ground can also be seen as “a metaphor for a warrior killed early in life”.  Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life – something that is here for an incredibly short time, yet can still be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen and have a big impact on you, and the world around you – just as Elias did, and now I will have one of these beautiful trees in my front garden.

*An interesting note, while putting the girls to bed tonight, C picked the book ‘Peaceful Piggy Meditation’ – a children’s book on feelings and mediation, given to us by the hospice councillor we saw just a couple weeks before Elias died.  One of the first pages discusses how it can be difficult not to lose your temper when angry and, as we chat about books while reading, I noted that sometimes Mama feels that way and I asked C if she does too.  She said to me, “Sometimes when people are sad, I feel angry.”  I just about dropped the book.  She also said when people are happy, she’s happy, but she clearly said again that when people are sad, she feels angry.  E and I both asked her if she felt angry when we are sad, and she said yes.  I asked her if she knew why, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said no.  Though I try to avoid putting words in her mouth, I found it interesting, and so I asked if she felt sad too, or if it was confusing, and she said confusing.

Also, on one page there is a Daddy pig, and she pointed and said, “Their Daddy didn’t die” and on another page there is a picture of a goldfish who died, and after we finished reading the book, she wanted to go back and look at that page.  I know her behaviour lately has been very much that of a typical 3yr old.  People are quick to assume that she was and is too young to understand or even notice any of it – but a big part of me felt as if it was something ‘more’, and I’m pretty sure I’m right.

* * * * *


Words to express how much I miss you are failing me.  It hurts beyond words.  I would love to try and promise I won’t relive our last day together tomorrow – last kiss, last touch, last smile, last breath . . .  but try as I might I know it will come.  Like a freight train downhill with no breaks to knock me down.  (I supposed that should have said ‘brakes’, but really, it’s pretty much both in this case)

As I put the girls to bed tonight, I remembered putting them to sleep this night two years ago – the four of us together in that one little bedroom, mattresses on the floor, clueless as to what the next day would bring.  As I lay between them I thought of how far we have come since then.  It has not been easy, plenty of times I’ve felt like it was too hard to keep going.  But, we have made it this far and I know we will continue on much the same – missing you and loving you, every single day, no matter how much time passes. In the early hours of April 22nd, 2009 – I had no idea how I would make it . . . I couldn’t imagine my life without you for the next 5 minutes – certainly not even this far ahead.  I sat awake on the couch the next 4hrs or so, waiting, and dreading the girls waking up and having to deliver the news that they would never see their Daddy alive again.  I couldn’t imagine their lives without you either – yet here we are, and with love from you and for you in our hearts, we keep going.


P.S.  I Love You



  1. greggieswifey said,

    So beautifully written. Brought many tears to my eyes. I relate to how you phrase and explain parts of this journey.

    I agree there maybe more to the typical 3 yr old tantrum for Caia.

    The symbolism of the cherry tree maybe me cry. It’s perfect.
    Again the pictures are lovely, very beautiful tree.

    That sounds like a good plan (I know plans don’t always work out on these days, but its good that you have one). I think the idea of the beach again is wonderful, planting the tree for you and the lantern ceremony for everyone sounds lovely.

    You two share such a unique and profound love that only few truly get have in their lifetime. You both were blessed to have each other. Elias sounds like such a wonderful man, perfect for you.

    Wish I was closer so I could give you a long hug, and share some tears.
    I know today and tom will be difficult (to say the least; and not like the last two years haven’t been), but I hope that you feel Elias with you and the girls during these next few days.

    I’m continuing to pray for all of you, his family and friends. Wish I could do more. I’m here when you need me.
    Hugs and Love,

  2. Andrea Row said,

    SO beautiful, Chelsea. Holding you in my heart. xoxo

  3. laura beth said,

    looking so forward to sharing tomorrow with you. there are no words to express how much elias is missed.

  4. Keeping you in my thoughts, Chelsea. You are so strong.

    When my Mom passed away, some Jack&Jill friends bought me a beautiful cherry tree to plant in her honour. We’ve moved three times since and we’ve dug it up and brought it with us each time 🙂 It blooms right around the time that she died and I love that.

    Huge hugs.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks for sharing this Jackie – I hadn’t even initially considered that it would come into bloom at this time each year. It’s comforting to think of that. I have figured that I would have to dig it up if I ever moved . . . . though considering the terrible job I did trying to move a couple of other plants to make room for the tree, I think I would hire someone to move it for me.

      I hope to get up to Elphi in the next couple of days to check on the magnolia they planted in his memory, as it should just be coming into bloom right now too. I couldn’t work up to go see it last year, and it may be tricky with the Easter holiday, but hopefully we can get there.

      Thanks again,

  5. Debbie said,

    I love the symbolism of the weeping cherry. Thinking of you and holding you in my heart. Glad your family and friends will be there for the lantern ceremony. Wishing you peace and lots of sweet memories of Elias this weekend.

  6. caroline said,

    how well I can relate to your heartache. In some ways I am jealous that you had time to prepare, in other ways I wonder if that would have been harder? I had to tell my son, on my sons 8th birthday he would never see his father alive again. He is now 17 and I still cry when I think about it. Everything beyond telling your child that, in your life is easy.

  7. […] Last year, on the same day, I wrote a post about a tree. […]

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