Just a little branch

For some reason

this comes to my memory

as Thanksgiving comes closer…

Several years ago, I had signed up, with my community, to take dinners in to a family who was grieving a fluke summer accident. Their middle school boy had been watching a baseball game at summer camp, and a line drive struck him in the head and he was tragically killed instantly. This boy had been in several of my son’s classes over the years and we knew the family as acquaintances. As I gathered the foil pans of food in the car, I was impressed to grab a tree branch that had fallen in our yard. I ran back inside and gathered some scissors, ribbon, a black Sharpee marker, and a pot with marbles. (I am an artist what did you expect! Not hoarding, just prepared spontaneity and how my brain works!)

I will never forget when I entered into their home. It was November. I felt like I was intruding. The parents were not home and the child who was expecting the dinner, opened the door and then disappeared, without much talk. I felt awkward as I entered into the dim empty kitchen. The house felt sad and cold. I set my dinner tins on the counter, and then I placed the pot in the middle of their table, with the tree branch stuck in the middle. I hurried, like I was doing something wrong and didn’t want to get caught.  I set the marker and cut  ribbon next to the potted miniature “tree” and left a note. Write down what you are thankful for, on this ribbon,  and tie it to the tree. Then I walked out by myself, with the door clicking behind me.

In the spring I ran into the mother of this family. She came right up to me. She said that for a long time that tree branch sat on their table empty. No one was thankful. They were heart broken and angry. But, then one day,  she noticed that the Sharpee had been moved, or the ribbons left messy. She said, then one day, one of her children wrote on the ribbon and tied it to the branch. Then on another day, one more ribbon was tied to the branch. Gradually the tree became filled with ribbons and she said, most of the comments were about the son that had died. But then, it began to be gratitude for other things as well. They left the tree up long after November. She said to me, thank you, for helping our family begin to heal with that simple little branch.

I did not plan it. I carried out a spontaneous impression. I believe it was angels whispering to me. Perhaps this family needed just a little branch to help them express their love and gratitude during their sorrow. Healing takes time, and often with a nudge.

I love this memory. It reminds me to listen when the angels prompt! God know us and I am thankful for that.

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