The Survivor

Yesterday, I discovered that the old tree I’d admired during so many bike rides is now a broken remnant of it’s former majesty.

The sight of it literally made me cry.

I’d always considered the tree a living definition of the term survivor. It had, after all, obviously withstood so many of life’s storms, including a lightening strike. Because of all its scars,  the tree was much more magnificent than the younger trees nearby.

Yesterday, seeing what remained of it, I no longer thought so. Even more bothersome was that some time had obviously passed since it had fallen, and I hadn’t even realized it.

Granted, I changed my regular bike route a while ago so I haven’t recently ridden by the tree, but I didn’t think it had been THAT long.

Apparently it had been.

Like so much recently, the overgrown stump was a reminder of how quickly time passes. And with the passage of time comes loss: the loss of friends and family, the loss of youth, and even the loss of the roles and responsibilities that we think define us.

But as I looked at the stump through the tears, I realized something else. The remnants of the tree were still making their mark on both the landscape and on me.

And that’s really all we can ask of anything.

Moments and people can’t stay in our lives forever. Instead, we have to make the most of what they give us and then use that to shape the remaining time and relationships we have.

In the past, I’d always thought the tree was there to teach me the  lesson that being a survivor is about staying strong during tough times.

Yesterday, its remains taught me a new lesson: survival isn’t just about standing strong. Sometimes it involves letting go of what we think defines us so we can reach out to find new ways to make our mark on the world.

And it taught me I can do all of that while still embracing the memories.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter and son at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on May 26, 2019, in My life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This post is perfect. I absolutely love it. I believe in grief, of course. But I don’t feel right when anyone becomes a broken record of mourning what is gone. You’ve helped me understand that my discomfort comes from the feeling that sometimes there is insufficient honoring of all that remains. Well done, and thank you!

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