Do you remember?
There was once an artist living a lonely life in the basement of an old tenement building. In the apartment on the top floor a beautiful young woman and her mother wield away the days.
The daughter suffered from tuberculosis and was bed ridden. Her bedroom window looked out at a brick wall but against the dull façade a beautiful blossom tree grew. As the daughter watched the tree develop from bud to full bloom she grew stronger.
The artist visited the small family daily to chat and pass the time. He helped the mother carry her shopping up the steep steps and entertained the women with his many stories.
Summer passed quickly the blossom blew from the tree and was replaced by the flaming colours of autumn leaves. Coughing up blood and laying feebly with her head turned to the window, the daughter became weaker. Concerned, mother and daughter watched the leaves blow away in the wind daily revealing more of the plain wall.
The artist had been busy. Finally, he had received recognition for his work and been commissioned to paint a portrait for a wealthy man. He danced up the stairs, taking two at a time. He wanted to share his good news with his two favourite people.
On entering the room heads, turned in his direction and on seeing the glum faces he tempered his own enthusiasm. He perched on the edge of the bed and taking the young woman’s hand in his, is shocked to feel the iciness of her skin. However, long he holds her in his grip none of his body heat transfers over to the pale-faced young woman. She hardly looks in his direction but instead stares out of the window.
The artist glanced up at the mother as she stood staring into the void, her eyes loaded with sorrow. Then he looks at the tree growing against the wall. Its skeletal frame looked dark and threatening in the winter gloom. Only one leaf remained hanging by a few fibres.
“Summer’s over and when that last leaf falls I will die,” the young woman murmured and coughed uncontrollably.
The next day a weak winter light lanced into the room and across the young woman’s bed. With difficulty she lifted her lids and surprised by the burst of life outside her window took a deep breath and sat up.
“Mother wake up!”
The exhausted mother who’d fallen asleep in a chair stirred.
“Daughter you look well,” she said smiling.
“The tree – mother look at the tree!”
The women sat gawking at the window. Outside the tree was miraculously in full bloom, restored to its summer glory. Bright green leaves and beautiful flowers.
The young woman made a rapid and full recovery. When she asked her mother why their artist friend hadn’t visited she remained strangely silent. It was months before the mother found the courage to explain how the artist had sadly died when he fell from a ladder in the early hours of the morning after creating the perfect tree.
This story maybe read on many levels. Does hope and love bring about miracles? How many of us when we are feeling down wish someone would paint a bright tree on our wall of darkness?