Remembering the Trees
She never loved trees or tried to save any of the national forests; she never used the wild as an asylum to escape the cruel world she lived in – she was born and bred a city girl. She didn't care about the trees from what I can tell, but she changed my life in a way she can never imagine and will never know.
I suppose it all started when she walked out of her house one crisp, summer morning into the awaiting street crowded with all the men and women running to work, her shoe laces were a little bit loose because that morning she had insisted on tying them herself. This was the first day of kindergarten, the day when she began to have a bit of independence. To the unbiased passerby, she was an innocent young child who has not quite gotten the grasp of dressing herself properly – her shirt buttons were buttoned up wrong, too. This is one of the first memories she ever had.
My first memory was a meadow full of butterflies feasting on the wildflowers hidden among the tall grass, the meadow peaceful in its own haven but surrounded by the dark looming forest. There was one lonely tree in the middle of the meadow worshipped by the grasses – or so it seemed to my eyes at that young age – every time the wind blew, the grass bent over until it seemed to be like thousands of worshippers before a god. It's gone now – that meadow.
She was so proud to have dressed herself that morning. She bought new clothes with her mom the day before in her favorite colors. Excitement practically crackled in the air around her as she held her chin high and marched off to the bus stop. As she reached the bus stop, an older girl, who was probably in fifth grade, stopped her, "What are you wearing? You know, that was totally last year." To hide her tears, the younger girl turned away, but as she was walking away the older girl stuck out her foot – tripping the younger child into the mud and ruining her new clothes.
At the end of the day, the child went home, her pretty, ocean, blue clothes covered in tears and mud, and the air that had that same morning crackled with energy, had settled into a dull, depressing silence. As the door opened and in came the dark cloud which filled the room. "How was your day at school, Margaret?" The mother asked tentatively, fearing the answer.
Had Margaret been a few years older, she would have given a snarky response and stormed off to her room, but she was not a rude, unthankful teenager, but a young girl of five who didn't know how to deal with the emotions she felt. She spilled the story of what happened at the bus stop that morning with quite a few tears from both of the parties concerned.
Margaret's mother went to the administration with Margaret's story, but they told the mother it was probably a "onetime incident", and there was no proof that, that was what had actually transpired. Or at least that was what they said; Margaret's mother personally believed that the older girl's parents were very rich and very generous towards the school, and getting their precious little girl in trouble would stop the cash flow.
As the weeks lengthened into years, Margaret began to become a teenager and had to deal with the clicks in school. She was a loner, an outcast. It wasn't just that first incident that made her avoided by her peers, although it was partially that, it was that she had locked herself away and had no self-confidence that made her different. As the incidents of bullying increased, Margaret learned to hold all the emotions inside her, to hide them from her mother, so as she didn't worry.
Slowly, thoughts of suicide entered Margaret's mind until it occupied every fiber of her being, she was convinced it was the only way of escaping the emotions that were bringing her down. She secretly began to search the internet for stories of people who had committed suicide perhaps because she was afraid of what might happen after death. She went to the local public library to keep it a secret from her parents.
The day she decided she was going to go through with… it was a horrible day. The skies were grey and ugly as if the world disapproved of her committing suicide. It had been a bad day at school – the kids had been particularly mean to her – calling her names, and saying "the world would a better place without her," and so on.
As she went to the library one last time – to make sure she was sure – she found a poem, a poem that changed her mind. It was about a girl who had committed suicide because of bullying, and someone who didn't even know her wrote a thoughtful poem about her.
Thirteen is far too young
For a girl to have hung.
She had much left to live,
And much more to give.
Her story touched the world
Even though she was only a girl.
Facebook and MySpace are fine,
But, now, it's crossed the line.
She trusted "him" her fake friend,
But "he" let her down in the end.
She listened to mean, cruel people,
Now, she's in God's steeple.
Now she's young woman of thirty, she survived high school and went into therapy. She is now a successful business woman. Perhaps you wonder how I knew this, well, she leaned against my base – as so many have, but this is the story that touches me most.
I was fairly young when someone showed me that memory of the meadow. I am a tree. Trees have one sense, seeing memories.