Watering the Apple Tree

Less than a year before he died, our son Joshua watered our apple tree often. I doubted the watering he did would help, because the tree had never given us much fruit.

One morning, Joshua watered for a full hour. I shook my head and came outside to discuss the cost of his efforts. I ended my speech with, “Son, I think you’re over watering.”

He kept his eyes on the spray. “What makes you think this?”

I pointed at the ground. “You’re flooding the tree, and the water bill is too high.”

“Mom,” Joshua said in his patient voice, “this tree needs to drink, or it won’t give fruit.”

Beneath its branches a huge mud puddle grew. “All right, Son, but I don’t agree.” I walked back into the house mumbling.

Sometimes there’s no changing his mind.

Joshua ignored my not agreeing comment. Of course, he kept flooding the silly tree.

A Son Dies by Suicide

A year later, after Joshua had died by suicide, I was trying to march forward with my grief. But at the same time, I grew fearful of the idea. To move on meant to forget Joshua; this sounded like betrayal.

One day, I stood next to the apple tree on the patio as this war struggled within my heart.

I hated my existence: misery and needing my son. This mama could no longer see, touch, or be in communication with her child. I longed to kiss the shiny place on his forehead.

A breeze drifted through the yard, stirring a hint of fall.

“God, help me,” I begged.

Not prone to idle hands, I grabbed the garden hose and watered the base of the apple tree. Standing under the tree, I scowled.

Fruit of his Labor

It never gave us but a few underdeveloped apples in a season, I thought. I whispered, “Lord, You haven’t forsaken me, but it feels as though You have.”

Right then, my shoulder thumped against a smooth object. I bent my neck underneath the tree. Dozens and dozens of Red Delicious apples dangled, filling in the branches.

Then I remembered Joshua watered the tree the year before until it almost drowned.

Joshua knew what he was doing with this barren tree, and now we had an abundance of baseball-sized apples.

This is excerpted from God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart: Williams, Jean Ann: 9780997701609: Amazon.com: Books

Visit Jean Williams’ website: Jean Ann Williams | Author – (jeanannwilliamsauthor.com)

Read more from Jean on Open to Hope: Missing a Son During his Birthday Season – Open to Hope

Jean Williams

Jean Williams, a freelance writer, lost her young adult son Joshua to suicide in 2004. She lives in Southern Oregon in a mountain valley community where she works on short stories for adults and novels for young people. She grows a large garden on an acre of land with her husband, who is a retired police detective. Jean is the mother of three grown children and grandmother of 12. Jean has been a practicing Christians for 38 years and owes her life to God. Many times after Joshua's death, Jean wished she could join her son in the afterlife, but her faith in God kept her on earth. The last few years have been filled with joy, as Jean reaches out to help others through their grief process. http://joshua-mom.blogspot.com

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