Every family tree—large or small—has many leaves. Some are fresh and new due to the addition of new babies. Some are brightly colored as relatives enter the prime of their lives. Still others are weak and withered. Each branch of the family tree represents a different family line whether it be aunts and uncles, grandparents, or nieces and nephews; you want your family tree to have multiple branches. Strong, healthy branches. Branches that spread out and reach for the glory of the sun and sky.
As with earthly, planted trees, each family tree goes through periods of losing leaves that can never be replaced. Each leaf that falls from the tree represents a loved one lost. Taken from our view and our lives, never to be replaced.
As we age, there are milestone leaves, if you will. These are losing grandparents, followed—hopefully many seasons down the path—by losing parents and relatives of their generation. Those milestones are life-changing events. Those cause voids that will never be filled. My husband and I have both experienced the loss of a parent. Our lives were forever changed by their passing.
But what about when the leaves of your own generation begin to fall from the tree? How do you handle those losses? These are perhaps the kinds of losses that not only narrow your world, but also cause you to take stock in your life and to look around at who remains.
Unfortunately, I’ve already begun to see the leaves of my generation begin to fall. On September 8th I lost my cousin, Walter. On September 15th I lost my cousin, Bobby. Bobby and Walter were brothers. As I sat at the memorial service for Walter, I slowly looked around the room. Even though I still saw the cousins I played in leaf piles with, or rode bikes with, or spent countless overnights with, or went to camp with, I was struck with the realization that we had—dare I say it—gotten older. Walter—perhaps among the eldest of my generation—was still the young man I could remember seeing in a military uniform when I was very young. Bobby, his junior by eight years, was still the older cousin I fondly remember taking the time one evening to sit with his younger cousin (me) and actually talk with me about any subject my young mind wandered to. I could easily remember these guys bounding down the stairs of their home and rushing out the front door on their way to see friends or girlfriends or whatever.
Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Bobby, and as I write this, I still have trouble grasping that the leaves of my generation have begun to fall from my family tree. How I wish I had the power within me to catch them as the wind whisks them off the branches and gently stick them back in their places.
Life is a gift, and today is a present to be opened and shared and enjoyed. Take the time to look at the colorful leaves of your family tree, then reach out and hug them and tell them you love them because you never know when one will fall from the branch never to be replaced.
Until next time, I hope when your feet hit the floor in the morning that a smile tugs at the corners of your mouth and your day is full of bright sunshine and wonderful blessings.