The Anniversary Tree

The Anniversary Tree

Last Sunday my husband, Jim, and I celebrated our twenty-ninth anniversary. We had married the end of April as I had wanted a spring date, thinking it the perfect time to start something new.

On the day of our wedding, my brother-in-law and family brought us a young weeping cherry tree and planted it in our back yard. Each year since, we eagerly have awaited the knots of delicate pink blooms as if they were our anniversary gift.

But over the years the tree has waned, the blossoms fewer and the number of barren branches growing. We consulted an arborist and fed the tree to improve its vigor. We had years when we thought it looked hardier, and some when we were certain it was in its last season.

After the cold winter last year, the tree failed to blossom at all, the buds tight before turning to leaves. My mind is good at wandering to seek meaning or read a sign into such events. So you can imagine the fears raised by our anniversary tree’s absence of blooms.

Not knowing what to expect of the tree his year, we were full of hope for its rebirth as pink buds covered the branches. Our hopes were met with a number of knots of pink blossoms, even more lovely as goldfinches sat among them, waiting a turn for sunflower seeds. Even so, most buds remain tightly closed and many branches barren. Much will go when we prune the dead wood.

Sometimes we have things in our lives we cling to as they represent something important, something deeply significant and dear. We become so attached that to let go feels almost like a betrayal. In the case of our anniversary tree, as it blossomed it reminded us of our pledge to one another, our relationship. To see the tree age and fade reminded us not only of our own mortality, but also of the fragility of relationship.

I know we will miss our tree when we finally take it down. As with so many things now gone, we will still talk about it, perhaps frame a picture. But there comes a time to let go, to make room for something new.

Already we talk about replacing our wedding tree with something strong and hardy. Perhaps a red bud. And we don’t need to have a big tree, thinking we may not have the years it might take to grow it full and large. As I told Jim, instead we will plant with faith in something new to come. And, also hold in memory the starting point of something lovely, beloved.

13 thoughts on “The Anniversary Tree

  • April 30, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Oh Elizabeth and Jim – my heart skipped a beat as I read this. I could just imagine how concerns rose to the surface as you thought about the implications of that sweet wedding tree losing its vitality. Yes I also counted on the positive way in which you view life’s vicissitudes, dear Elizabeth, so was relieved and reassured when you and Jim began considering another tree. I’ve mourned every tree I’ve ever lost but like you,
    learned there is such joy and hope in planting another tree. Here’s to many more years
    of happy life together for you and Jim! Love, Margee

    • May 2, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you, Margee. Today a neighbor gave us a very small red bud, which Jim and I carefully planted in a garden near a driveway. It will probably be a few years before blooms.

  • April 30, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Elizabeth, this touched me deeply. Even Culross Peattie would find himself moved. Your best so far. Happy anniversary, with many, many more to come.

    • May 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you Eileen. Thinking that dear Mr. Peattie would approve is quite an honor.

  • April 30, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Thank you Elizabeth for including me in your blog list. This was a wonderful reminder. Happy Anniversary!

  • April 30, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    We loved your meditation on your weeping cherry tree, and almost wept along with it and the two of you as it faces the end of its days. There’s something about a tree that makes it such an apt marker for the passing of our own days.

    You’ll be happy to know that our apricot tree survived its first winter with flying colors and will be waving in the breeze to greet you when you arrive. But alas, the frost got its budding flowers once again, so it will likely be fruitless. We hope to live long enough to taste an apricot or two. After all, we bought a variety that has its home in Ontario!

    We look forward to greeting you and Jim in a few weeks.
    Jim and Nina

    • May 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Dear Jim and Nina, How sad the apricot’s blossoms were nipped by the frost! I do look forward to seeing how it has grown. Looking forward to seeing you both in just a few weeks.

  • April 30, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    The weather here is wonderful at present. A bit more rain this year, and even snow on the mountains last weekend. Hurry up and get here.

    Jim and Nina

  • April 30, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Very moving. I agree with Margee. Happy Anniversary.

  • May 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Elizabeth, I was very touched by this message. It is so poignant, and at the same time, so realistic. I love the image of the goldfinches in it, and am going to focus on that beautiful picture.

    • May 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      I appreciated your comments, dear Reina. And, yes, the goldfinch and the pink blooms.

  • May 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Dear Elizabeth, As always, your thoughts and words about your anniversary tree are so poignant. They moved me to tears as you contemplated its loss. We all have so many losses that we can relate to. But your ever-present optimism is such an inspiration to many of us and teaches us to keep moving forward.
    Even though you won’t really replace that weeping cherry, perhaps that hardy little red bud, planted with such care, will provide you both with at least as much pleasure, as you nourish it… and your relationship… over future years of your marriage. Happy Anniversary!

  • May 6, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I read your blog about your dear anniversary tree to Gary and we were moved, as it our 11th on May 8th. It meant so much to feel connected to you and your heart. We share in experiencing losses and changes in our lives. We know, but sometimes forget. that changes and losses our part of our life’s journey. We are so glad that we can share our lives together and grow together. Happy Anniversary. Love, Adele

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