The Memorial Tree

This has been a long time coming. The whole thing: Getting a tree planted in memorial of my son, Connor, visiting the tree, and placing a rock monument.

Today, I want to share that a tree was planted. We overcame some obstacles to get it done. Our original plan was to use the sapling we purchased as part of Connor’s Living Urn. Unfortunately, because it is a sapling, the park and recreation department would not accept it. We then chose one and discovered that it was not on the approved list. The tree had to be of a certain size and type and purchased through them.

After multiple emails back and forth, we finally agreed on a tree. But by this time, they already planted another variety in its place. Oh, that could have put me into a tailspin because the incorrect one was planted where we chose. It is planted just where we wanted it. It is on the southwest corner of Redstone Skate Park where Connor spent so much of his time. We decided that the variety of tree is not important. What is important is that as it grows, it will provide shade for the skaters in the bowls, ramps, and stairs and for those sitting outside watching.

It was planted several months ago. I had yet to see it in person. The parks and recreation department sent me photographs. I knew it was there. It was one step closer to what my daughters, Brittany and Hannah and I, want to create to honor Connor. We still have 6-8 weeks before it is complete. It is one more step that we have made in the right direction.

I don’t get to that side of Highlands Ranch very often anymore. Last week, I had an appointment which took me close to the skate park, close enough that I felt led to visit and check out the tree in person.

I pulled slowly into the parking lot and careened my neck to see the tree. It is not visible from the parking lot entrance so I could not immediately see it. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and there were a few skaters at the park. I drove slowly anticipating the first sighting of the tree. Yes! It was there! It looked good.

I parked the car. By this time, my heart was racing in anticipation of seeing the tree for the first time in person. I started walking and suddenly found my footsteps were quickening. I could not walk the 50 yards from my car to the tree fast enough. My breaths were short and rapid. I felt a rush of excitement and joy as I finally was here. It was real. The tree was planted, exactly where we wanted it, in honor of Connor.

As I walked the final 5 yards, I slowed down to take in the moment, to take in the tree, to take in the locations, the surroundings, the temperature, the sounds, and the people. I wanted to remember this moment and never forget it.

I imagined this tree growing big, really big. So big that that it would be a good size to climb. It is something Connor would do. I imagined his 5-month-old cousin climbing that tree someday. I imagined other kids climbing it as well.

I took pictures of the tree by itself. I took pictures with the skate park in the background. I took selfies with it. By now, I was in tears of mixed grief and joy. Yes, I felt two very opposing emotions simultaneously. That seems to happen more often, mixing the two. It no longer is just sadness, but happiness comes alongside. I like that because I know Connor would want me to be happy. I want to be happy.

I stood holding the trunk while I watch the kids. One boy in particular kept doing the same trick time and time and time again. That reminded me of Connor. He would practice a trick until he mastered it. He did not give up. He did so many board flips that he wore out the toes of his shoes.

I remember watching Connor and his friends as they challenged each other to do better, be better and be the best. I also remember seeing him pause and slow down to help a newbie and offer some pointers. He loved being with his friends at the skate park. Redstone was one of the first parks he went to. The passion of skateboarding grew from there as my dreams for the tree to grow.

I do not know how long I stood there and quietly observed the skaters. By now, I was in full blown tears with a runny nose. I wiped away my tears and knew I had done what I had come for. It was a first for me. I made it. It was time to leave. What I did not realize is that my grip had tightened on the tree and my knuckles were white. I had grasped the tree so tightly that I had to pry my fingers open to release my hand.

I am grateful that I visited the tree. I am grateful for the tears because they are healing. I know that things will trigger my grief, and this was one of those things.

If you are ready to understand your grief, schedule an appointment with me today.

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