The Blooming Crab Apple Tree & Joy


Journal Entry: April 28, 2018

Soon, the crab apple tree in our front yard will blossom, to its vibrant pinkish purple color. I feel so bittersweet about this. It will be the ninth, and final time, I see this tree bloom from the front window of our first, little white house on Ransom road. I will never watch it bloom from the inside of that house again; I will never watch it bloom from the inside of our first home, with my Marshall, or any babe of our own, on my hip.

We sold our house and we are starting our next adventure, to build a house, a bit sooner than we had planned. I am full of excitement and anxiety for building our new home. And, I am full of excitement and anxiety, to be leaving our first home – the home we prepared a nursery in, but will now pack up and never lay our baby down in. The home we returned to and fell apart in after losing Marshall. But, most heart wrenchingly, the home where we enjoyed much of our short time with Marshall.

The blooming of the crab apple tree means it is springtime. The trees are budding, plants are pushing their green stems up through the ground and the animals are out and about, happily exploring the earth. Everything is joyfully and beautifully coming to life. Parents and their children are excitedly venturing outside to the park. Moms are breaking out their strollers to take their babies for a walk.

It feels so cruel. How can life be beginning right in front of my very eyes, when the one I longed so deeply for left too soon? I want so badly to unfold the stroller I so carefully picked out, and to be out pushing my three month old Marshall around the block. I want to enjoy the blossoming of the crab apple tree without thinking of how quickly those beautiful blossoms will fall to the ground, how symbolic the blooming of the apple tree is of the life of my first child. Breathtakingly beautiful blooms here and gone in such a short amount of time.

In the midst of the excitement of finalizing floor plans for our new home, in the middle of a much needed fun and relaxed trip to Savannah; whatever exciting thing I am doing, I still think to myself, “I’d rather have Marshall”. It is indescribable, the things I’d give to be able to raise my sweet boy, to watch him breath, to watch him learn and to watch him grow.

And so I have learned. I have learned to take these moments in for all that they are, when I am able to. I have learned to be present in them and to seek the joy. I have learned to do this not only through the big, new exciting things, or only on new adventures with a good friend, but also in the little, every day moments. The moments when I catch myself learning to smile again. The moments when I feel hopeful about the future again. Especially in the moments when my mind goes to Marshall, our first miracle baby, and I am filled with a sense of joy unlike anything else.


I have learned that joy is available at just about any moment, if you choose it, and stop caring about what others might say or think. Yesterday I posed at the beach for a picture, with outstretched arms and a big smile. A nearby person made a laughable comment and referenced the little mermaid. I wanted that picture because I found joy in the time spent in the sand, with a good friend and a new book, right beside the ocean.

Immediately after finding our place on the beach I found a broken piece of seashell and a rather perfect little feather, right beside one another, at arm’s reach. These two pieces of nature, found so close together in the vast sand, one broken and the other perfect, reminded me of how my broken heart co-mingles with my joy. Marshall has changed my life so profoundly, and he is always with me, nudging me and telling me to find joy and to keep loving, fiercely. I bet that stranger found some joy in my joy too, how awesome is that?

I have learned that it is okay to be hopeful about the future again. A couple of days ago I bought a children’s book, authored and illustrated by a local artist in Savannah. The book is beautiful and the stories are so unique – just like our family is and will be. I dream of our future children, of what our lives might look like and of the joyful little moments I will revel in with my future babies and their dad. I contemplate how we will make our future children’s oldest brother a part of their lives. I have some special ideas for that.

I dream of the day my future children wonder and ask me why their friends don’t have an angel brother. I dream of this because I can’t wait to let them know how special they are and how unique our family is. I dream of the day when our western society can handle loss families remembering and incorporating their beloved children into their lives without fear, but with joy. This is one of the many lessons Marshall’s life has taught me – to conquer fear through seeking joy.

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