There are several scenes in Safe Under the Willow that describe Jillian's beloved weeping willow. I felt it was time to bring to light some of the significance of this old tree she adores.
Excerpt (unedited) from Chapter 3
It was a beautiful seventy-five degree sun-filled day in our small town of Pennsylvania. I heard the birds singing throughout our many trees as a small grey squirrel nibbled on an acorn to my right of our property line. I should have grabbed my camera to capture the wondrous sight God granted me. Instead, I took the brief walk under the willow. I felt safe here from the beast inside me that I have concealed from my family, mostly my husband, for the past twenty years. The meaning behind the weeping willow was sacred. Something that only I knew about, as many other things that I kept hidden from the world.
Excerpt (unedited) from Chapter 7
Walking the familiar path to the sacred ground felt peaceful. My demons seemed to be afraid of the willow tree. It was as if they knew that the war between us was soon over. The trepidation of my loved ones discovering the truth has been set free. Now, it was a matter of finding the peace within me that I undoubtedly believed was there for the last twenty years.
Excerpt (unedited) from Chapter 9
I began painting a canvas before them that was full of swoops and turns, revolving around to the center where a lonely young girl stood underneath her only safe haven; the old willow. That same judicious child was placed hidden in its branches, hiding from the hurt that shadowed over her very existence. Feeling like she will never be that perfect girl, exiled from society because she was different.
My hope is that this sheds a glimmer of light (there's more reasoning but this should give you a starting point) as to why this type of particular tree is such a strong symbol for Safe Under the Willow. Feel free to comment or even ask a question or two. I'd love to hear from you!
“The Phantom Returns”
Flickers of light bounced through the window and off our yellow kitchen wall; amazing how light can travel so fully; so effortless. He’s home. I knew she was going to be made the villain. Mom scurried me, her oldest child, up to my bedroom.
“Go on now; you don’t want Daddy to see you up so late.”
“Yes Mama,” I replied.
Ten years old and I had to share a bedroom with my four year old sister. I ran up and buried my small frame under the shabby blue bedspread, trying to remain quiet and unknown so I didn‘t wake Chloe. “I hate him,” I thought. A door slammed and the thunder of his voice rocked me to my very core. I felt terrified; yes terror, but also anger. The fighting escalated; I could hear my mother being thrown into one of the last lamps in our home; I laid quiet, stricken. The sound of her body made a thud against the unsteady stand the lamp was on. I heard the blast of the thick base of the lamp shatter. Darkness deafened the house of pain.
Rather than safe in slumber and dreaming, I heard my mother sobbing and my father say, “Take that you no good bitch!”
Hearing him stagger up the stairs and evidently missing a step when I heard the pounding of his knee hit the thinly carpeted step and he yelled, “You’ll pay for that.”
Sixty seconds ticked by. I knew my father had passed out from the reverberation of his snore. I tipped toed down the stairs delicately so I wouldn’t wake the drunken beast. I saw my mother still lying on our worn out brown carpeted floor. Mom looked up and gave me a troubled smile.
“I’m okay, Sweetheart; Daddy just got upset.”
With all the anger built up inside me, I had a hard time not screaming at her. I knew Mom got enough of that from my father.
Instead, I regained my composure and said, “Mama, Daddy gets angry all the time. I know how he treats you. I see it, Mom. I’m only ten, but I’m not stupid. Why can’t we leave Mama? Please, please, just pack us up and leave!”
I pleaded with her. I didn’t understand how my mom could live a daily life of abuse and pain. What good did he do for us? He only brought heartache. He couldn’t even keep a job most of the time. Frustrated, but feeling sorry for my mom, I helped her up off the floor. We began picking up the pieces of our crème colored lamp.
“I’ll get the superglue,” Mom said.
Mom spent a small fortune on glue. The clerk at the dollar store had asked her once why she bought so much glue. He seemed to imply huffing, but Mom was quick to intervene and shake her head no, then told him her young kids are always breaking things. The clerk seemed to be happy with her answer and it ended their short conversation.
I heard a car horn blazing at me and realized I was actually in my comfortable SUV at the light and it had turned green.
“Back to reality Jillian,” I said to myself.
In SUW, Jillian struggles with the darkness hidden deep within her heart. She finds there's only one way to turn that darkness to light.
Stuck in a situation that you just don't know what to do? Proverbs tells us that if we seek His will- the path will be revealed. Jillian knew she had to reveal her childhood filled with abuse to her family. She resisted until she couldn't anymore and followed the lead of the Lord. And it wasn't until she surrendered that she was given the courage to start her next chapter. So, next time you find yourself in a situation that you're not sure- pray. And pray earnestly seeking His will and not your own. It's at that time the path will be lit and answers will be shown.
Safe Under the Willow
tells a story of forgiveness, love, and healing. Forty-year-old Jillian Davenport has the perfect life, complete with a loving husband, two children, a career, and a cozy little home-until one innocent conversation with an alcoholic patient, Mr. Hopkins, allows darkness from her violent past to integrate its way into the present. Domestic abuse, alcoholism, and hatred were parts of her life that she had put behind her some twenty years ago- a part of her life that she'd rather stay hidden from her family.
Throughout the saga Jillian will reveal the physical and mental abuse of her childhood with those she loves the most. But with that comes risk. Jillian fears her family will judge her because of her upbringing or pity the broken little girl she buried inside. Follow Jillian as she exposes the truth, the importance of friendship, and how to heal from an abusive childhood. Which, ultimately, helps her to understand how the weak survive.