He died on the day he gave her the lemon tree.
It was their 6-month anniversary present. She’d been wanting one for the little sunny spot in her kitchen. He felt bad for having to go to another tech convention but it was planned before he met her.
His plane crashed into the icy Hudson River.
The tree came with one budding lemon. Strangely it gave her hope. But as the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, she began to resent that lemon.
One night she snatched it off.
“When life gives you one lemon, make a cocktail with it,” she spat at the tree as she angrily squeezed the fruit into her bourbon.
Then she felt bad about erasing the only living marker of Christopher.
For a year, nothing happened. Not even with her tears, which she tried to direct into the soil. No lemons. Not even a single flower bud.
She gave up and moved the tree to her patio so she wouldn’t have to look at it as often.
Then one night, 378 days after Christopher’s death, she went to a rock concert. It was the alt-rock band The Replacements. It felt nostalgic and freeing and it was the first time in a long time she felt unencumbered by a heavy heart.
She paid little attention to him at first.
He seemed nice, the friend of a friend in the group she was with. But gradually she began to notice how he made lovely gestures like steering her into an unobstructed view of the band and away from the idiot in front of her who just wanted to watch the show through his iPad screen.
“I’m Julian,” he yelled over the music.
“I’m Jenna,” she yelled back.
And smiled for the first time in 378 days.
She continued to smile when they all went out for post-show drinks. And she didn’t stop smiling even as she drove herself home.
When she awoke the next morning she felt compelled to water the tree.
She teared up when she saw it. The unmistakable bulb of a teeny tiny lemon, pushing through for its place in the sun.
“Thank you, Christopher,” she whispered.