The Christmas tree didn’t state many words last night. As I removed lights and decorations, as I carried her outside in the rain and dropped her off near the road, as Debbie Maxwell and I breathed deeply to enjoy her aroma one more time, she didn’t say much.

But this morning, noticing her former place in the room, I’m thinking she did voice comments in her own way. Not statements for my ears to hear. Images for my mind to remember.

Stories of this year and last year. Tales through decades of scenes and places and conversations. Songs being heard. Shows being seen. Presents being opened. Laughter being enjoyed. Tears being shed. Meals being eaten. Games being watched. Children being young, then not so young, then grown. Years hurrying by.

And prayers prayed. Often early. Intercession and petitions. Worship and praise. Reading and reflection. Waiting in silence. Writing in rhythm.

Memories of so many Christmas seasons long, long ago. The deaths. The hospital stays. The questions. But also the gifts passed around and opened. The stories of Jesus read and heard again and again. The pictures taken, the stories told—history merging with these days and these people beside this year’s tree.

This morning the tree is gone. I’m writing in my place. She’s outside, informed she’s no longer needed.

But her aroma seems to still be near. Walter Wangerin Jr.’s audiobook I played while taking down the decorations is still on my mind. And the tree’s image still causes me to expect seeing her again as I glance toward her former place.

So I’ll end with a word I used too often in my last few sentences: still.

Our tree stayed still since we brought her home. In her place. Shining her light. Reminding all who would notice about a story, about many stories. Letting each decoration offer a declaration of places we’ve been, phrases we believe, images we like, days we hope to recall. Not demanding attention, but welcoming it. “Be still,” she seemed to be saying. “Be still and remember.”

This still and calm morning, I think that’s what she’s still saying.