Her grandparents planted the oak tree when they bought the land for the house. It was the first thing they nourished together, before having pets, before having kids, before having grand kids, they had a tree. And the tree was the living evidence of their love and care, of the way they lived their lives from start to end. She was in love with her grandparents, but they both passed away during her childhood. First, her granddad left them when she was 9. Lung cancer. Discovered way too late. He never smoked a cigar in his life, yet by now we all know that life is strange. So they had to accept the hard reality of losing him to something they couldn’t fight. 67 years, a long time yet still not enough. All of her memories of him were full of love and warmth. He thought her how to fish, how to set up a tent, he thought her to cook marshmallows.
He was a retired war veteran so he had a lot of time on his hands. Her parents were always busy so she spent her first nine years on this Earth living with them. Although she loved them a lot, she always loved her parents more. Even from a young age she could understand how much they were working for her and she knew that, even if they weren’t around as much, they did everything out of love.
Her grandmother passed when she was 14 but, unlike her husband, she passed peacefully, without any pain, in her sleep. 67 years on this Earth for her as well. A coincidence or not, no one can tell. She knew no other person as kind as her grandmother. And no better cook either. The lessons she received from her helped get through years and years of pain and suffering and the warm glow her grandmother put around her heart kept it from decaying.
Her grandparents were buried behind their garden, on their own land.
It took a lot of work to have the Church accept that and not send them to the cemetery, but they did it. So much work put into that land. Blood, sweat and tears indeed. From a plain piece of dirt they raised a house, a yard, a family. It just felt normal to give their life to the same dirt they worked so hard to bring life to.
The bitterness of life did not stop there – her parents were killed by a drunk driver. In an instant. “They didn’t feel any pain”, said the doctor. Like that was supposed to somehow make everything better. She was 18 at this point so they had no reason to put her in foster care. So she lived in her grandparent’s house. All alone.
Her parents were buried alongside her grandparents.
She wanted to see if she could still climb on top of the oak tree. The view from up there was always calming and breathtaking. So she climbed. Up and up and up. And she made it on top, where the wind was blowing, the world was under her feet, and her eyes could see way beyond the horizon.
It didn’t take much to reach the ground. Perhaps five seconds. It seemed longer to her though. She had time to remember how fast she climbed the tree when she was younger, how alarmed and fearful her grandma was, how her grandfather was making jokes about the way she was acting. Her life was difficult, yet she had more love in it than anyone else.
Her body was contorted in a weird way. The fall was hard. The earth was stealing all the blood from her body. Like a famished child, the oak was drinking it all.
She was buried behind the garden.