My Turn: Remembrance through the red tree
On occasion, I drive home along Glenshire Drive at the end of the day, rather than hustle my way along Interstate 80. At this time of year, of course, it means driving in the dark.
A few nights ago, as I passed the Glenshire Clubhouse heading east, my older daughter noticed a light in the sky above the trees. We looked upward and for an instant we thought perhaps the moon was shining through. Then we realized it was a star ” a very heartwarming, significant star. Immediately, I guessed where it was coming from and felt flushed with emotion.
Most likely it was shining to honor a young boy who had died earlier in the year. It sent out hugs as we gazed and drove by. I smiled. It sounds silly to say an electric star outlined in small white lights could radiate a hug, but that’s exactly what it did. Its brilliance was powerful. I smiled contemplatively and told my two daughters that the white star atop our neighbor’s tree was very much like the red tree in our backyard.
Christmas 2006 was the first one we endured without my husband’s two brothers. His youngest brother died in April, and ripped our hearts out with the confusing, unexplained aftermath of suicide. Four months later, his other brother, a dear soul mate, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm, which kept him lingering for a month in an unconscious state. Our lives were devastated and we felt deeply saddened by life’s unforeseen stab in the heart.
As the holidays approached, numbness set in. I couldn’t imagine feeling good again. On Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, I announced that I didn’t feel like putting up a Christmas tree. Fate wouldn’t allow that. Two hours later a phone call from a friend announced that he was stopping by our house with a surprise. He and his wife rolled into our driveway with a fresh-cut, 15-foot tree bouncing on the roof of their car. I laughed and felt grateful. Christmas had lovingly squeezed its way into my life and I began to thaw.
-We chose to spend Christmas with a small circle of family. That choice may have insulted a few people, but we felt strongly that we needed to cocoon ourselves from too much chaos.
On Christmas Eve, my family of four, my sister-in-law, my niece and two nephews carried a candle into the backyard and stood before a small, yet full evergreen that had been dressed in red lights earlier that day. (Actually, we defaulted to solid red lights because we bought them so late in the season that the whites and multi-colored versions were completely sold out. I figured that red worked. It’s the color of love.)
We chose this tree because it stands directly in view from all of our windows facing the back of the house, overlooking Boca Reservoir. The eight of us lined up, passed the candle one by one, and spoke with the flickering light illuminating each face.
The twinkling red lights pulsated from the branches. We lit the red tree every night throughout the holidays, and now I light it three or four times a week. As soon as I flip on the switch, I feel a hug just like the hug I felt when viewing the white star.
I think Truckee needs a gigantic memory tree to honor all the people we have loved and lost. Our community is small and tight and caring and loving.
The lights are mesmerizing, like the sea. I stare at them and get lost in thought. I can reflect and dream; meditate and feel soothed; cry and feel hugged.
The white star I mentioned above is large. It’s high up on top of a tall tree. It’s visible from many areas along Glenshire Drive. I love it. Thanks for sharing it with the neighborhood.
I glance outside now and see my red tree. When the branches move, the lights move. I love it, too. I think I’ll keep it up all year, because I can’t bear to see it go dark. It’s my hope and my memories rolled into one.
Marianne M. Porter has lived in Truckee many years, has two children, loves her husband, and cherishes life with all her heart.