Julie's Tree

 It is early Saturday morning and I am contemplating the endless “to do” list that is my life.  All of Comcast is apparently down so I can neither work on stuff nor watch “Sports Center” to see how many times I can catch a replay of the Mariners walk-off win last night.  It has made me pause. My golden Retriever “Violet” and I are having a cup of coffee on our front porch.  To be most accurate, she peed in the yard and rolled in the grass.  We probably both could have gone either way but she doesn’t like coffee and social convention restricts me from her activities.  In between things, she checks in with me to remind me that she loves me and that I am the most important person ever in her life.  I try not to get a big head.  That is what she tells everyone.

     I am looking out on a tree we planted when we moved to our house in 1994.  I don’t actually know what kind it is.  It is a little pathetic that I don’t know; the tree has been in our front yard for 21 years.  When the tree was very small, it was given to us by the dad of a dog named “Julie”.  Julie was a patient of mine that was lost in the early 90’s to Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA).  For whatever reason (infection, drug exposure, cancer, . . .), a patient’s immune system decides to attack its own red blood cells.  The disease is very serious and requires treatment with immunosuppressive drugs and transfusions.  Julie was treated aggressively but her disease was relentless.  Some of the case details are blurred by time but I remember how sweet she was.   I remember the relationship and the trust and can still feel the collective deflation during her decline.  Many patients do survive the disease and today we have better drugs than we did in 1992.  I wonder if she could have responded to the newer medicines.  I think likely not, considering how quickly her disease had progressed, but questions like that often haunt me.  The tree originally went home with Connie and Dr. King because Beth and I didn’t have a place of our own.  A few years later, when we bought our own home, Connie gave the tree to us.

Julie’s tree is a fixture in my landscape.   I think about losing her and about how she would not have held a grudge for that.  She knew people who cared about her were trying.  Her tree makes me consider all the lives each creature touches and I wonder where her dad is today.  He would be happy to know that she lives on in her tree.  Her presence in the serenity of her corner of our yard gives me hope that nothing good ever truly dies.