On the sidewalk, in front of our house, there’s a tree stump. The city recently did a tree trimming service for our city and figured it’d be best to chop that sucker down, rather than trim it. I imagine the conversation went like this:
Tree Trimmer 1: Just trim the dead branches. Make it look pretty.
Tree Trimmer 2: Dude, they’re all dead. Should I just take all the branches off?
Tree Trimmer 1: Sh*t! Let me call the boss. (Grabs walkie-talkie). Uh, Sir? This tree on our route… well, all the branches are dead. Should we just take all the branches off?
Tree Trimmer Boss: Just chop the whole thing down!
Tree Trimmer 1: Copy that, boss. (To Tree Trimmer 2) Chop the sucker down!
Tree Trimmer 2: Copy that. Chopping it down.
Now we have a stump.
When I was four, my parents took me to the park. We spent half the day there. My mother, well, she took pictures to capture the happiness. In one of the photos, I stood on a giant tree stump. My father held up one of his arms to support me as I readied to leap off, my hand enveloped in his, wide smiles on both of our faces.
Maybe it was seeing the stump in front of our house that brought back that memory, or at least the picture of that memory. Maybe our new stump triggered the emotion of past happiness with that old, giant stump. Or, maybe, seeing the stump made me realize that the tree is gone, a forgotten piece of my life that I won’t ever get to experience, in person, again. A memory, an item in a photograph that one day I’ll remember when something triggers the emotion. A figment.
Just like the time my parents took me to the park for half the day, I miss it. Standing on that stump, holding my father’s hand, smiling. But our tree is gone now, all we have is a stump.