Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In Memory of Curtis - April 13, 1962 to December 19, 1997
During the last month, I’ve been feeling out of sorts, struggling against a sense of loneliness that seemed to arise out of nowhere. Being the sort of person I am, I examined my life, analyzed it, and worked on connecting more with those people who are important to me. And in that connection, my loneliness continued – nothing could appease it, end it, lay it to rest. This feeling of wanting, needing something different, yet not knowing what, stayed with me - a continual gnawing sense of wrongness and emptiness that nothing, no one, has been able to take away.
This past weekend, driven by a compulsion I had (at the time) no insight into, I bought three trees to plant in my backyard. There was no question of whether they fit in my budget (they didn’t), no question as to whether I could actually pick holes in the clay and rocks big enough for them, no question of anything other than this need to plant trees in my backyard. Trees that would survive. Trees that would thrive. Trees that would grow, bloom, drop leaves, and provide some sort of sustenance.
Yesterday in a fit of physicality my body hasn’t seen in ages, I dug, picked, scooped, hauled dirt, and planted. Three apple trees. Three glorious, starting to bloom, beautiful apple trees that will survive and thrive. I will make sure they do. I am their keeper.
And yesterday, for the first time in a month, I didn’t feel as lonely.
And today, I understood why.
When I was 6 or 7, I can’t remember my age for sure, my grandfather painted two pictures. One for me, one for my brother. We received them as Christmas presents. My painting was of a kitten. My brother’s picture was of him, climbing a tree, with a dog standing up against the trunk, barking at him. My grandfather had captured the essence of my brother in that painting, and to this day, I can see it clearly in my mind.
Curtis was all about adventure, laughter, charm, and the good things in life. Curtis was my best friend. And when he died thirteen years ago there was a hole left in my life. And even though my life has carried on, changed and shifted, there isn’t anything that fills the place he left, except at certain times a profound sense of loneliness that no one and nothing can take away. Other than trees.
The year he died, I planted a willow in the yard of the house where I was living. I no longer live there, but I do have to go there, due to personal circumstances, and every time I see that Willow and how big it has grown, I smile a bit, and in my mind I see the painting of Curtis climbing his tree. And it is there that he lives on.
I have a big huge hole in my life. Especially today, on his birthday, when the world is whizzing by in all its busy-ness, and I hold back, watching. Missing someone terribly thirteen years after they are gone. If Curtis was here, he’d bump me upside the head and tell me to buck up. But he’s not here, so I sit back quietly, dig my holes to show the world what I’m missing, and then I fill them with trees.
Happy Birthday Curtis. I miss you.