Friday, October 29, 2021

Microstory 1745: Lizard’s Tree

Let me tell you about my father’s last day alive. We knew he had been sick for a long time, but we kept having reason to hope. Treatment was working well in the beginning, and then it wasn’t. A promising new drug came on the market, but it didn’t seem to work for him. A new drug trial went underway, so we tried that, but it had no effect. Of course, he could have been taking the placebo the entire time. A different trial began a couple of years later, but he ended up not qualifying. He chose to stop treatment a month before he died, wanting to spend his last remaining days lively and pain free. According to my mother, he wanted to spend his actual last day with me. On TV, when parents are asked which child is their favorite, they always either say they love each of their children equally, or they’ll give a real answer, and it’s because they’re a villain. It’s a little weird in our family. My dad loved me just a little bit more than his other five children, and no one has ever seemed bothered by that. I’m a lot like him, in most ways, and the others were more like our mother. Except for the eldest, who isn’t like any of us at all. As far as I know, they all just accept that I’m the special one, and don’t take offense to it. Every family is different, I guess, maybe we’re just a little more honest with each other. Anyway, he called me Lizard, on account of its similarity to my real name, which I trust you can rightly guess. The day he died, he said, “Lizard, come with me. We’re going for a drive.” I’m the one who drove, but he directed me to the middle of nowhere, and asked me if the tree before us wasn’t the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I looked around us, and saw plenty of trees, but none close enough, and none that stood out. He laughed, like it was a prank, but he quickly returned to his serious but calm look. He gestured towards the ground, and told me that it once stood here.

This is what he said about the tree that was. “While your mother was pregnant with you, Lizard, she was reading a book about the world’s cultures. She discovered that people from different countries practiced the same tradition of planting a tree when their child was born. We had already had two of our own by that point, but we still decided to start doing this for however many we had left, which ended up being four.” I told him he meant to say three, but he was scared to respond to that, and I think I understand why. He went on, “your younger brothers’ trees are closer to the house, but your tree used to be here. We planned on showing you when you turned eighteen, so it could be one of your gifts, but we all know I’m not gonna make it another seven months. I wish we had brought you at least two years ago, before a drunk driver ran off the road, and crashed right into it. No one was hurt; not even him, but your tree was destroyed. I choose to believe there’s a lesson here, even though a mound of dirt is not what we had in mind for you. The tree was supposed to represent your life, but if that were true, you would be dead right now, instead of me. I hope what this shows you is that you are exactly as strong as you think you are. You made it through most of your schooling, you made it into a good college, and you’ll get past my death. I love you, Lizard, and there is nothing that can change it, no matter how many drunk drivers fly down that road. I need you to believe that you can take care of yourself, because I can’t go in peace if you can’t.” He went back to the car real quick, and returned with another small tree in a pot. “You can plant as many new trees as you want, but never forget that you...are irreplaceable.”

No comments :

Post a Comment