I curl up in a secluded window seat in order to see the big oak tree down by the road. The incessant rain falls like giant tears from sad clouds and blurs my vision. My restless fingers trace the rivulets on the cold pane as I try in vain to find a pattern.
This sturdy old house was built when padded seat nooks were standard, when people took time to be quiet and read, or like me, gaze into a vague and foggy future while chased by bitter memories of loss, always hoping for some clue to a solution; always hoping for a rescue. None ever comes.
The oak tree has no leaves. I want to believe it is trembling from exposure to the raw winter weather. How does it go on year after interminable year and still burst forth in the spring with an umbrella of new greenery that reaches heavenward for the sustenance of light? The eternal questions in my tortured mind are exhausting.
After my old life crumbled into non-existence, my sister and her husband offered me sanctuary here in the country until things begin to make sense again. They have three children who spend most of their time on the other side of the cavernous house. I hardly ever hear them. From this third floor retreat I pass the endless hours alone. There is a small kitchenette so I am not obligated to join them for meals. My very appreciated private quarters are a temporary cocoon, a safe haven.
Sometimes I try to express my erratic feelings by painting or writing, but it does not give me comfort or relief. The joy I once had in my well-ordered life is now reduced to incapacitating pain. The music in me has withered and died. I can’t even pray.
As my eyes strain to make out the shape of the oak, there is a crash of thunder that rattles the glass between the stormy outside and me. Exquisite lightening explodes in a breathtaking kaleidoscope; beautiful, yet terrible. In one devastating second it seeks out the solid and dependable old tree and attacks it without mercy. Huge parts of it fall to the ground in flames until the dousing rain turns fire to smoke.
I gasp in disbelief. How dare you? I holler, shaking my fist at the unrepentant sky. What did that wonderful oak ever do to you? I have so aligned myself with its steadfastness day after day it never occurred to me it would not always be standing like a sentry at the gates of this lovely home.
I can’t seem to stop screaming in rage. Why did you leave me? I thought you would be there forever like you promised. You have hurt me to my very core. I hate you! I love you! I am lost. Oh God, where are you?
My kind and patient sister stands nearby with the healing balm of understanding. She knows my purging meltdown has nothing to do with the oak tree. After my anger is spent, I put both hands over my swollen eyes and wait for something I cannot articulate. She sits close and ever so gently wraps her loving arms around me. I can hear the satisfying tenor of congenial voices downstairs. She has left the door open.
When the rain stops I sit up straight and gaze into her precious face, so like Mama’s at that age. I know I am in the right place to begin to reconnect, to fill the emptiness, and to find the music that has deserted my soul.
With quiet strength, she leads me toward the steps to where the warmth of home begins to thaw my protective facade. I am acutely aware of a soothing sound that makes its way to these tone-deaf ears. It is the clear voice of her four-year-old. He is singing; an endearing thing he does unconsciously as he plays.
The pure sweetness in the tune floats upward and washes over my shattered heart. The simple song is all the more effective by his lisp. “Jesuth loveths me thith I know, for the Bible tellths me so. Little oneths to Him belong; they are weak but He isth strong…”
A sliver of hope tiptoes in to plant a tiny seed. Tomorrow, when the sun comes out, I want to check on the tree whose roots go deep, and like me, just may have survived the storm. Tonight, I need to listen to a child.
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