Permanence, until now I never realized the full gravity of something being permanent. We use a permanent marker to write our names on our children’s clothing aa they head off to summer camp. Of course you can also scratch out the name, tear out a tag. You can cover it up with another name, make one name into part of another’s name. What is permanent?
Right now our country is debating the national monuments, what do they represent? I am sure that when Mount Rushmore was carved, by artist Gutzon Borglum, he considered his art would be permanent. Carved into the granite mountainside in 1927, it was to be left for future generations to appreciate. Granite, though slow to erode, does erode over time and the political climate and views could someday lead to the removal of this monument. My point being, that even things we perceive as permanent, aren’t alway so.
Since I moved into my house thirteen years ago, I have debated with my husband the blue spruce tree at the end of the side of our driveway. The blue spruce was the last tree in a beautiful hedge that graced the side of our driveway. I only knew of its existence by black and white photos found from the city zoning department. Across the driveway, in my yard were two giant oak trees. The November before my daughter passed, we had a wind storm and lost one of the giant oaks.
That day I will never forget. One of the few videos I still have on my phone, is her fake freaking out, standing in the wind storm. 30 minutes later we heard a terrible crack and the oak tree laid across our lawn and the street. In that moment I realized my youngest daughter was missing. Her and a friend had gone for a walk around the block in the wind storm. I yelled for Genae and Mikenna, her two sisters living at home still, to look for their youngest sister with me. I screamed her name outside. For 30 seconds I was terrified at the tiniest possibility she was under the large disastrous mess in the street until she came walking in the door clueless to the cortisol racing through my body.
The blue spruce tree, searching for sun, leaned away from the large expanding branches of the remaining oak tree. It stood bent at a thirty degree angle, so not visually appealing. I had to trim the lower pine branches to keep from scratching the neighbors car since the previous owner put a driveway next to ours, on the other side of the pine tree. At Christmas I would use the low lying branches to make a large wreath, the smell of pine filling my living room, and hiding the fact my Christmas tree is made of plastic.
Last week I lost the battle of the blue spruce as our tree guy, who was tending to the oaks, determined that it should also come down. Et tu, Brute? To add insult to injury, the city decided, almost at the same time, that our power line was connected to one of those oak trees in my yard and we needed a telephone pole to be up to code. So where did they put it? Four feet from the pine tree the day before it came down. Now I’m left with the eye sore of a telephone pole instead. When I saw my beautiful blue spruce in a pile, I cried. I now tell my carpool when they pull up, to pay homage to the totem pole. (it has yet to have power attached to it, so its just a pole)
I don’t really understand my connection and hurt over the tree, I know it somehow has been made worse since the loss of my daughter. It is another loss? It is a feeling of a loss of control? Is is the fact that trees outlive us or the feeling of destroying something living? I am not sure, but most likely when my children own this house, long after I have past, the telephone pole will still be there.
The point I am leading up to, is that most people do not truly understand what permanent feels like. The only thing I had to relate to before my daughter Mikenna passed was my grandmother. It was sad, and I still think of her often, but it was the natural progression of life. As the years went by it has been easier. It is not the same when you loose someone in a tragedy or unexpectedly. As the months and years tick by, you slowly start to feel what permanent is. The initial shock is gone, but the pain never leaves. At first we cannot even fathom it. I cannot image an entire lifetime without her. Still two years later, I have some understanding of the fact I will never see her face again, see her wedding or children, hear her voice, but I still do not understand the true, complete, and full weight of it and may never until the day I meet her again.
This newfound understanding somewhat explains the lack of empathy of others to my grief or the grief of others in this same club. If I can barely understand the magnitude of the permanence of my loss, then how can I expect others around me to empathize? When they relate to me by using the loss of their pet, or a grandparent, all I can say is, that it isn’t the same kind of feeling, at all. In everything I do, I am reminded of that someone who is missing. In every joy, I am given a pinch of sorrow. Every celebration brings some sadness. All I can say to my loved ones is that though it may feel uncomfortable, that two, five, ten or twenty years might have gone by yes we are still sad, or have moments of uncontrollable sadness. Sit in the awkward silence with us, say our loved ones name, don’t try and fix it or tell your experience of loosing Fluffy. Just be there, and be forever thankful, that your Mt. Rushmore has not been torn down to the ground.