There was a towering willow tree in a neighbor’s backyard. I didn’t know the property’s owner, but it felt like a simpler time back then – a more inclusive time than the present – so I didn’t mind.

On sweaty July days, I would find my careless child arms around the rough mountains and valleys carved in the bark. Fingers would trace pathways in the wood as a diligent caterpillar would inch its way to and fro. Sneakered feet would confidently (in only the way a child could be confident) find sturdy ladders in the network of trunk and limb. One could feel close to Heaven in the branches, sitting there in the shaded canopy.

It was safe there. It was almost godly.

The tree became diseased and was chopped down. The massive base, now splintered and stunted.

It was images like that which reminded me of my grandmother’s death.

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