Fractured Branches

Outside the house that I grew up in, there was this massive tree, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen in a residential neighborhood. The roots of that tree were so strong that they were intrusive. The two squares of sidewalk nearest the tree’s base sat at a seventy-degree angle against the trunk, and the kitchen in our house actually slanted at one end where the roots of that tree had grown up beneath the foundation.

The branches of the tree spread out in all directions, stretching all the way to the other side of the street and covering much of our side yard. On the side of the tree nearest the house, the branches closed in at times and brushed the eaves.

The tree was like a hundred years old, and, as I was growing up, winters were hard on it. During long bouts of freezing weather, ice would build up on the branches and some would break and fall off. Others would weaken so that, when a storm came in the following spring or summer, the whipping wind would pull branches down too.

Not that long ago, an especially large branch fell from that tree and came close to crashing through my nephew’s bedroom window, the same room that I had when I was his age. So, the tree had to be cut down. Now, that massive tree is just a stump, surrounded by tilted sidewalk, dying slowly underground.

Family trees can be just as fragile.

It doesn’t matter how strong the roots are. If the branches grow weak, if they fracture and break, it can mean danger for everyone. And when the oldest, sturdiest branches start to come apart, it can easily bring the entire thing down. All that you can do to prevent that from happening is to take the tree apart piece by piece and then sever it at the roots.

That way nobody falls.

We all just separately disintegrate.

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