Here is one thing I know: the world will keep on falling apart.
Sometimes it’s terrible, and you think you can’t go on. Bombs explode and guns are aimed at children, and the unimagined thing becomes our new reality.
Sometimes it’s a pebble in your shoe, a child apparently born without an indoor voice, and the discovery that you can, in fact, ruin brown rice even when you make it with an automatic rice cooker.
Sometimes it’s a Friday night thunderstorm that sounds terrible but lasts only fifteen minutes. You wake the next morning to blue skies and sunshine and the sight of a once-beautiful and massive maple tree lying stricken across your lawn.
The gloomy face of your chain-saw wielding husband annoys you. The tears of your firstborn both sadden and exasperate.
You move swiftly to combat both gloom and grief.
The tree was already at the end of its life! It was only a matter of time! It’s the circle of life! Nothing to cry about!
But you are wrong.
It is worth the gloom. It is even worth the grief.
The young girl is right, and you consider that even flowers were not created to fade. Life was never intended for death.
If we numb ourselves to the loss of one great tree, do we lose our capacity to grieve the harsher pain? The less explainable calamities?
Can our optimism become a kind of blindness? A refusal to see and acknowledge that all is not as it should be?
You are grateful your Saturday story does not end here. You consider that pain rarely seems to signal The End. In your (admittedly) limited experience, there is always something more.
Joy does come in the morning.
On this morning it appears in the form of a half-dozen teenagers. Needing to earn money for summer camp, you had agreed weeks ago (and quickly second-guessed your agreement) to give them odd jobs. You’d spent too much of the previous week worrying about the tall ladders involved in window washing and the poison ivy involved in brush clearing.
But here they are, and there, you have only just discovered, is the tree, and for that entire Saturday morning and the next Sunday afternoon, they will haul and carry and load. They will be your very own, unasked-for, tree-clearing work team, and your children will only occasionally slow their progress by treating the log pile like a jungle gym.
The tree is lost, and that is a terrible thing.
But it is not the only thing.