The beautiful flowering tree planted in Nina’s memory on Memorial Day a year short of a decade ago (by her favorite cousins) looked so regal and smelled so delicious yesterday. I like to think it flowers this time of year as a special birthday message from my “baby girl”. However, with the vicious storm we had last evening, I watched the soft white petals drift and swirl to the ground, as if a deluge of tears from a breaking heart. Today, it sits almost bare – a few petals still hanging on for dear life, unable to let go, desperate to regain its former beauty.

I can’t help but see a symbolism in that tree that I can associate with. It is as if it stands as a monument to my grief, the ebb and flow of emotions that I have felt for the past nine years since Nina no longer walks this earth. When the tree is in full flower it seems much like family life “before.” Of course there were short-term crises that now seem insignificant, and life’s speed bumps along the way, but all in all, pretty good. I mean, at least our family was intact.

When the leaves were suddenly stripped of their branches and thrown to the ground in the furious hailstorm, it was like our lives after Nina’s sudden death; thrown suddenly into a world of intense pain and sorrow, trying desperately to survive the unthinkable.

But, yet this morning, the tree stands, more barren and most definitely battered, but still hanging in there. Nine years later, those who love her, have weathered the tornado-like force of grief and loss. And nine years later, much like Nina’s tree, though the storm has taken its toll, we will still manage to be upright; definitely bent, but still standing.

And somehow, life roars on!

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Cathy Seehuetter

Cathy Seehuetter began her journey with grief when her 15-year-old daughter, Nina, was killed in a drunk-driver accident in 1995. Since Nina’s death, she has been active with The Compassionate Friends and is presently serving her second term on the National Board of Directors. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul, as well as grief magazines, We Need Not Walk Alone and Living with Loss. She is also a contributor to the popular forum, “The Bulletin Board” in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She has given workshops at The Compassionate Friends national conferences on “Journaling and Writing as a Healing Tool.” Cathy lives in Minnesota with her husband and has three surviving children and four grandchildren. Cathy was a guest on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart, discussing Sudden Death/Vehicular with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley. To hear this show, go to the following link:

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