My Son Leo’s birthday is coming up on August 10th. My only child was just 19 when he returned to the Spirit realm. He would be turning 27 in earth years on this date. We celebrate all his special days of remembrance at the Fragrant Fountain, which is the name of his unique tree. It is a sacred site for us and it is also a part of Leo’s legacy. It is one of the most meaningful memorials created in honour of Leo.
Thanks to Lorraine, a warm and capable lady who reached out to us soon after our son’s transition, we found out how very loved and respected our son had been when he was at the university, not just by his peers but also others who have met him. Lorraine and her co-workers, who worked in the main dining room, used to see him three times a day. Leo enjoyed the food and loved meeting his friends there where they would eat and talk.
Lorraine said to us, “Your son brightened our day with his smile and kind words whenever he came into the dining room.” She suggested planting a tree in Leo’s memory and she was instrumental in making it a reality.
It was on a chilly Spring day when the tree was planted and we had a ceremony in the tranquil, beautiful Finnerty Gardens at the university. It was in the early days of my grief and all I knew was how exhausted I felt. I asked Leo for a sign that he was there with us. I knew he was there, but I needed something tangible that I could perceive with my human senses. I was not aware it was a sign until later when I remembered seeing the bamboo trees swaying back and forth. I had noticed them moving and thought it was strange as it wasn’t a windy day. When I was in a calmer state of mind, I knew it was my loving and respectful son bowing to me and his dad with reverence. I can still hear the sound and see the green tall bamboo trees moving in unison.
The most difficult moment of my life was when I had to pour my child’s ashes onto the base of that tree. I will never forget the wailing sounds coming out from my soul. I felt like I was physically paralyzed and couldn’t have done it without my husband holding my hands and doing it together with me. I swore that I would not let the same tragedy happen to another parent. It is the kind of pain so deep and debilitating that one would remember not just for one current lifetime, but for eternity!
All the young people who had been close to my son were there with me and my husband and that brought us some comfort. Some of Leo’s professors and others who had become his friends were all present, participating in the ceremony and the planting of Leo’s Tree.
The site of the tree was cleansed, purified energetically, and blessed with prayers before the tree was put in place that morning. The spiritual teacher conducting the ceremony had asked me to drape a particular silk shawl over Leo’s poster-sized picture. Each time I tried to do that, the shawl would fall to the ground. It was the strangest feeling. It felt like it was being pulled from my hands by a very powerful force. It wasn’t a breeze. I remember hearing Leo’s friends laugh as they witnessed what happened. Again, I only realized later that my playful son was right there with us, removing the covering. He didn’t want the shawl over his favourite photo. He was saying, “That’s not necessary!” “No dogma.” Just like Leo!
Over the years, there have been many magical happenings at the tree. I remember what one of Leo’s friends once said, “Leo likes to bring people together.” We have met many people from all walks of life at the Fragrant Fountain. We know that people, whether they are friends or not, go there seeking solace and for connection with Leo. They all leave feeling good and being welcomed by Leo and his warm smile.
The pictures taken on different occasions tell of the beauty and magic of the Fragrant Fountain. I believe it is so named because the branches extend from the trunk just like water flowing from a fountain. It is all leafy and green in the summer months, and for a short window of time, there are small white flowers that emit a light fragrance.
It is truly unique and the only one that has been planted in the Garden. We had no idea about the kind of tree to plant and left it all to the horticulturalists.
We love to see it at any season. It might look bare in Winter and early Spring, but we know there is a lot of life waiting to burst through when the conditions are right.
It reminds us of the natural cycles of Life: birth, growth, decay, and rebirth.
The second Tree was planted close to home in our hometown. We had chosen a spot by the lake that is most meaningful to us.
Leo used to ride his bike on the walkway as we strolled leisurely around the lake in the evenings. We would meet at the spot briefly before he went home before us to do his work. It still is one of the most scenic areas with the lake and the water fountain against the sometimes snow-clad mountain backdrop.
It was another chilly morning in the Fall when the baby Pine Tree was planted. My husband left earlier to set up the place with Leo’s friends. As I was still weak physically, he asked me to stay home until it was almost time to start the ceremony. Leo’s friends helped with setting up tents as rain was anticipated. I found out later that there was actually hail at dawn. When I was walking towards the site by the lake, the sky turned very bright and everything was covered with golden light. It was glorious!
The first thing that came out of my mouth was “Leo is here!” I was highly-charged with positive energy and smiling at everyone I saw. I only felt love and peace. I had all the strength I needed to greet our guests and conduct the ceremony with my husband. We didn’t know who would be there or how many people would show up. A very large group arrived, with lots of Leo’s high school friends and even their parents and some of his favourite teachers. Many of our friends came and helped to make it a most memorable event. I knew we also had many ‘invisible guests’ from the higher dimensions honouring us with their presence. That was later confirmed when I looked at the photos taken that morning by our friends.
We were pleasantly surprised when our Mayor and many of his Council members showed up and participated in honouring Leo. They were also present at the Celebration of Life. It took us by surprise again when the Mayor presented us with a Gavel for his City Hall meetings.
We gladly accepted it on Leo’s behalf. He told us he had always thought that Leo would one day be Mayor. Leo had done volunteer work for him at City Hall when he was in high school.
The ‘baby’ Pine Tree has grown and it’s at least twice as tall as it was the day it was planted. It looks like a gorgeous youngster standing there, with the ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ trees growing right next to it.
We visit this tree often and we are always pleased to see people in the community sitting on the bench across from the tree, enjoying themselves.
Leo’s two trees are symbols of strength and growth, of grace and transformation. They are magical! They are evidence of how loved and respected our son was and continues to be. They do remind us of the loss of his physical presence but they also serve to wake us up to the transience of life on this earth. We can always see him smiling at us when we are at the trees and hear him say, “I love you, Mom and Dad.”
Thank you, Son. We always love you❣️ Enjoy your Happy Heavenly Birthday❣️