Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tree Clearing

I took the above photo during a bike ride around the Central Park loop last September, because I felt some kinship with the trees.

During the previous year-plus
I'd been living in L.A. writing for TV,  then my dad died and I found myself with a full-time job deconstructing his law office and home.

Last August, Central Park, which has always served as my personal anchor making New York liveable, went through a similar uprooting, when a storm came through and felled hundreds of trees, many of them in the northern part of the park near where I live. At the time it seemed like nature was just piling on my personal grief.

Today's New York Times city blog explains that in retrospect, the storm may have done some necessary pruning.  That the park will now be closer to its original design. That more sunlight will come in.

Some might see this as Pollyannaish, but I know what they mean, especially having spent the past month in southwest Colorado, where around every bend you can see a mountainside where fire scorched a forest of trees, and things are already turning green again.

My dad's death has forced me to come to terms with many things, including my own detritus and my own endgame (I am finally rewriting my will). It has encouraged me to reevaluate my friendships and reach out to others who have been similarly orphaned. We are the patriarchs and matriarchs now, the grownups, and we have to start planting.

In the end, there are two ways to deal with trauma: let it win, or rise above it.  I'm trying to be Central Parkish.


Marcy said...

I vaguely recall a quote about the cracks in the walls letting the light shine in... My best friend's mother died last year, and today is her mother's birthday. And soon will be the anniversary of her mother's death. These become the time measurements... the first Thanksgiving, the first summer, and then it's the first year, the second year....

I haven't lost a parent yet... but I measure the time since my brother's daughter died in birthdays and deathdays.

Thanks for posting this. Moved me.

Sal Nunziato said...

My father died just 3 months after I got married, which was just 6 months after we started talking again after 5 years of not. He was 49.

I don't talk much about him, but your writing makes me want to.

Nice stuff.

Sandi Marx said...

Today,I received a fedex envelope containing my dad's death certificate.I read and re-read it as if it was a decoder ring without any clues.Not sure why it held mystery,maybe I just think I am rehearsing an episode of The Twilight Zone..thanks for your post.made my feet feel more firmly rooted. hug your kids for all of us orphans,I know I am hugging mine.

David said...

I think of the destruction/revamping metaphor a bit more widely (I think). In less than a year, I had my first child, separated from my wife, and watched my mom die of cancer less than 6 weeks after she was diagnosed. The bad and (yes) the good that came out of those various traumas were inseparably intertwined.

So I'm perfectly ready to believe that a huge storm that killed a mess of trees in Central Park could in some ineffable way pave the way (pardon the expression) for an even better park.

Thanks for the metaphor.