One + Four = Life: Change
‘For a seed to achieve it’s greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth it would look like complete destruction.’ Cynthia Occelli
Sometimes life breaks down in order to allow you to rebuild. I can’t help but feel like this weekend was the perfect example of how change is the only constant.
Recently there have been changes in my family, my career, my daughter and my home. All of these elements are at different stages in the cycle of life, death, birth, destruction and growth.
I woke up Saturday morning to the buzzing of chainsaws and the grinding of a wood-chipper. The trees in our backyard were being cut down to clear the way for an extension on our home. I guess you could say Saturday was the first official day of the renovation which should have been exciting.
I could not help feeling nostalgic for my beloved Meyer Lemon tree. I don’t know much about gardening but I did know that this tree has produced so many lemons at such a constant rate, that everyone who came to the house mentioned it- and left with a bag of lemons because we could never possibly go through them fast enough.
We bought our home from an almost 90-year-old woman. We gutted and restored it before our daughter was born and when elderly Joan came over to see the results (she keeps in touch with the neighbors) her last remark was to ask if she could have some lemons from 'her tree.' It was such a tender moment, Joan seeing a brand new home and a brand new family where hers once grew. Despite the modifications inside, 'her lemon tree' remained gnarled and strong in the backyard, unaware of time passing, still hard at work, pumping out its juicy yellow fruit.
For some reason though, for almost six months this year, the tree has produced next-to-nothing. I cannot remember a time where this happened in the five years since Matt bought the house- even when we had tenants in it.
Perhaps the tree was going through some sort of metamorphosis itself. I had to purchase lemons at the supermarket for the first time in ages. I checked often, willing lemons to appear and when those first green fruit-buds peeped out of the branches I thought to myself- Finally! Now I’ll be able to get back to experimenting with Limoncello and salt cures.
A tear rolled off my face when Matt told me the lemon tree was the first one tackled Saturday morning. I fought so hard to keep that tree but in the end it was too risky and expensive. Matt told me the tree removalists had been kind enough to pick all the half-ripe lemons from the center where we were not able to reach (I had already made Matt scavenge everything he could the night before.) Unfortunately most of the lemons were sacrificed, too green to pick and won't ripen off the vine.
As sad as losing the tree was, nothing prepared me for the news to come next.
“I spoke to your Mom, and your Dad this morning,” Matt started. I could tell he was choosing his words carefully.
“What is it,” I said, eyes narrowing, more as a statement than a question.
“It’s Bella...she’s gone to doggy heaven.”
And then the tears came for real. My dog, the one I got when I was 21 ,who was my companion and roommate for 8 years while I stumbled into adulthood. The one who was there through broken hearts, moving-boxes, job-hopping, and indecision. She was the one I came home to. My constant and my companion.
When I moved to Australia I gave her up because I could not bear risking her health- flying for more than 24 hours as cargo and entering quarantine for a month. It broke my heart but I gave her a better, happier life as a grand-dog, and in turn I gave my Mom a little piece of me to keep while I moved thousands of miles away.
And now she is gone, just two weeks before I could have seen her one last time. I could have been there to hold her in her last moments. And be with my Mom so she would not have had to experience that heartache alone. After losing my grandmother less than three months ago it just triggers and stings.
The only thing that could make me feel better was to hold my daughter close and smell her hair and remain grateful for her health and warmth.
This weekend I was cheered by friends who made me smile and laugh. I’m looking forward to the new addition to our house, the upcoming visit to my hometown, hugs from my Mom, Dad and Brother. And not least importantly, the new beginnings of a career in art- the fulfillment of my dreams.
And as these changes swirl around me, caught in the middle, I will undoubtedly change too.
I think it's how we accept and absorb these transformations which provides the opportunity for renewed grace.
All that is left of the 40 year old lemon tree, but it will make the way for our spacious new family home. Matt has promised we will buy a new lemon tree and use it in a topping out ceremony, once the roof is complete (oh the things you learn when your partner is in the construction industry!)
National Geographics from the 1920's and 30's that I bought at an auction with my Grandmother. They are my inspiration behind a new art project I will be starting once time allows.
Our dearest Isabella. Loved by many, loyal to all and particular as the day was long. She will be forever in my heart and her name forever tattooed on my ankle.
FourMy love, inspiration and new beginning. We can finally get that hair into a 'pony.' Her conversational capabilities astound me on a daily basis. Today she asked to go to 'eshoping' in the 'beep-beep.' She is definitely an apple who didn't fall far from the tree...or should I say lemon?
How has your week been? I'm hoping for a less intense one next week.