where she is

We had come to the park to see the tree. Noe’s tree, we’d started calling it.

Before Noelle died, she made it very clear that she did not want to be buried in a cemetery. Instead, she wanted her ashes scattered over her favorite meadow — the one to which she escaped atop her beautiful, majestic horse, Jasper. Their Church, as it were.

It is a perfect notion and a wish that we will help my dad fulfill as soon as the time is right.

But all of that has meant that until now, there’s been no place – no one, single place – where we could go to be with her. She has been everywhere, of course; there is no place that she’s not, but so too, there has been no place where she is.

“I know it’s silly,” I told my dad, “but I’m glad the tree has a good view of the water. I mean, I know it’s not Noelle, but .. ” My voice trailed off.

“I know,” he said. “Me too.”

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{image is the view from Noe’s tree – the edge of the grass leading up to the harbor. It’s beautiful.}

As soon as we got down to the water, I began taking pictures. It was safer to process it all through the camera’s lens.

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{image is a photo of the plaque beneath the tree. It reads, “In loving memory of Noelle G. Gordon, December 25, 1958 – June 5, 2015. Beloved Wife, Grandma, Sister, Teacher, Friend. In our hearts, she will always be near, so missed, so loved, so very, very dear.”}

Brooke immediately got down on the ground and sat in front of the stone. She ran her hands over the grass and dug her fingers into the small pile of fresh dirt surrounding the tree.

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{image is a photo of Brooke sitting on the grass in front of the plaque.}

Overwhelmed, I turned to face the water and snap more photos.

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{image is the view from the tree looking to the right. More of the harbor is visible beyond the grass.}

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{image is a photo of Katie giving Brooke a piggy back ride on the lawn in front of the tree.}

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{image is a photo of Gordon kissing my dad’s finger. Flash is tucked in next to his hip on the bench.}

And then I turned back to the tree. And saw my girl, loving her grandma.

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{image is a photo of Katie pouring water over the plaque to clean it. I don’t think there will ever be a time when this photo won’t make me cry.}

When she was done, she lingered by the tree.

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{image is a photo of Katie looking up at Grandma Noe’s tree.}

And then she came over and asked if she could take the camera.

“I want to take pictures of Brooke,” she said.

I didn’t want to give it up, but if I could offer my girl the safety of a filter on the Too Much, it was hers.

I’m so glad I did.

Seeing the world — and Brooke — through Katie’s eyes is nothing short of magical.

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{image is a photo of Brooke at the edge of the frame. She is looking down, searching the grass for whatever it is that piques her interest.}

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{image is a photo of Brooke squatting down in the dirt by the water’s edge.} 

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{image is the same as above, but Brooke is now turned around, looking at Katie over her shoulder and smiling.}

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{image is a photo of Brooke sifting dirt through her hands and watching it fall into the water below.}

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{image is a photo of Brooke standing next to the anchor that marks the southern tip of Main Street at the harbor. She is laughing.}

After hanging out for a while, we went to check out the rides set up in the park as part of a fair that would open later that day.

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{image is a photo of Brooke and me standing in front of a carnival ride. I have my arms around her waist and she is leaning toward me. I have no idea what we are actually doing, but I adore this picture, especially the cameo by the photographer in the form of her shadow across my side.}

Both Papa and the dogs had begun to get antsy. It was time to go home.

Before we left the park, I looked back at the tree.

At Noe’s tree.

And I welled up with gratitude.

Because it’s a place. A place where she may not really BE, but where I know, with every morsel of my being, that she IS.

In our hearts, she will always be near, so missed, so loved, so very, very dear.

4 thoughts on “where she is

  1. Yes, your beautiful narrative brings tears, but along with the tears come memories. Funny isn’t it…. People who are strangers, sharing pieces of our hearts, our souls knowing at such a basic level that we are the same. Thanks

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