Memom and the Leaves of Love

I haven’t tried to write a poem in a long time, but I’m sitting here making a video of my grandmother, we called her Memom, and wondering if I can write something remotely descent to go with a picture I drew with my son yesterday.

I asked him if he’d like to draw a picture for Memom and explained she had died and was with God. He asked, “How do you be with God?” I could only think to reply, “being with God is when you feel the warmest, most loved, happiest.” He replied, “like in the pool?” I said, “sure, like in the pool.” I’m sure my explanation leaves much to the imagination. I know it does to mine.

Jonathan drew a picture of a hummingbird on my suggestion after questioning what Memom liked. I drew a picture of a tree with leaves of different colors. Dried and ready to fall off with lots of color in each. I drew it because I’d read a story Jonathan brought home about an anxious leaf not knowing if it could hold on to the branch when the strong winds came.

It reminded me of watching leaves fall in Central Park a few years ago. It was amazing to see the colors of the leaves hanging daintily, high above the foot path. A wind blew through the dry branches and a large group of leaves fell into the air. They spun and twirled about in unison each mimicking the moves of the other while slowly drifting to the ground. It made me wonder about the leaves and how they knew when to let go. Sure, there is a science to understanding this, but I likened it to death. After all, isn’t the leaf dying and that’s why it’s changing color?

New York Central Park in November Copyright Heather Ross
New York Central Park in November. Copyright Heather Ross

I put myself in the place of a leaf and if it could be animate, I would ask the tree not to let me go.

“I don’t want to fall to the earth and be swept away. I want to stay here where life is familiar, I know what to do, I serve a purpose.” I thought of a hundred more reasons why I should stay, needed to stay.

Then the tree bent its branch and brought me near to its trunk.

“Sweet leaf, you have been all that I needed you to be. You have provided shade and protection, graced the world with your beauty, sang enchanting songs with the wind, but now you must continue your journey without me.”

“I need you dear tree,” I pleaded. “You have made me grow bigger and stronger. If I let go, I will be weak.”

“I have nourished you for many months, watched you grow and change, learn new things and share them. You are as strong as you need to be and when you are ready, you will be stronger yet,” the tree assured me.

“I’m so afraid of letting go. How will I know when I’m ready?” I asked.

“You’ll hear the wind whirl around you, feel the warmth of the sun and perhaps sing your song. You will know that letting go is not the end, it is the belief it is the beginning. With that, your fear will be gone.”

Then the tree outstretched his branch so I once again dangled over the hills of grass below.

I sighed, trying hard to understand the words of the tree. I watched as other leaves fell around me carried by the wind to their next spot. Then a sight caught my eye. A group of children surrounding a man with a rake. They jumped with excitement as if the man were about to give them a wonderful gift, yet he only smiled and continued to gather leaves, pulling them together in a pile until the mound was almost to his middle.

The children danced and cheered as the man stepped away. Then with joyful delight they took turns jumping into the fluffy mountain of leaves. Their laughter rang out high into the wind and I could hear it as clear as if I were on the ground with them.

My heart began to race as I watched the game below, the giggles getting louder with every jump. At the same time came a wind from beneath me, it raised me up and held me in the air turned just enough to see the tree and its nearly bare branches. It was then I realized how important the leaves were under the weight of the children, how their job wasn’t over, they served a purpose.

I’m not sure how I let go, I didn’t feel a snap or sense of leaving as I floated through the sky. My thoughts were on my new journey as I sank into the pile of leaves, surrounded by warmth and laughter.

Heather