I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and so I have a thing for trees. Always have. But there is one tree in particular that I have wanted to see since I was 9 years old: the Survivor Tree in Oklahoma City. The day of the OKC Bombing, I was home sick from school watching what could only be terrible day time talk shows (Maury?!?). My terrible TV watching was interrupted when images from the bombing popped up on my screen. I was 9. I had no idea what terrorism was, but I did quickly realize that there was a daycare in the building and that babies had been killed. Mommas. Dads. Brothers. Sisters. All told, 168 people died that day and it was the day that I began to understand that danger really could be anywhere. I suppose that what little I had left of innocence by that time also fell away that day.
The best thing I remember from that day was the tree. This one random tree that was right by the blast but was still standing. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. I forgot about that tree until I watched Elizabethtown years later. I have probably watched that movie over 20 times and I still cry every time. The scenes with him dancing with his dad and this darn tree are my favorites. It's a great movie. So, when I knew we could possible re-route our trip to go see my tree, we did just that.
It was the day before Memorial Day (appropriate when on hallowed ground me thinks), and it was so, so very quiet with a slight breeze in the air.
My tree. She is just so beautiful and hopeful. A survivor.
I kept it together through the chairs and the reflecting pool. I even managed to handle the fence strewn with loving rememberances. But when I saw this sentiment about "eternal gratitude" in the midst of such horror, the tears came. Appropriately so.