It was Lauren’s idea to organise a tree-planting. I think I suggested people letting off balloons with a wish or a message attached but that wasn’t very eco-friendly and didn’t have any longevity. We both agreed that the event was to be a celebration. We wanted to create an occasion for people to remember their mum and acknowledge the gifts she brought into their lives. Planting a tree is a beautiful symbol of new life and a wonderful way to remember someone who’s died.
It was just a few weeks before Mother’s Day the first year, so the timing was really right. We contacted a few councils and once Manly Council agreed to support us, the project came together. Lauren is sharp, enthusiastic and organised. Working together has always been very easy and comfortable. Alongside Trees for Mum we’ve had work, weddings and families to organise but it’s always been important to us that the event continues.
The first year our event registration system was very primitive…we had interested participants calling Lauren’s mobile phone. We were both surprised with the overwhelming response. Lauren was answering her phone all day long…people were literally calling to register to plant a tree and to talk about their mum. Lauren listened to their stories with warmth and compassion and we realised for the first time that we were going to help people.
We’ve had a lot of bittersweet moments listening to the amazing stories we hear from Trees for Mum participants. When people phone and email to register their interest to plant a tree, many of them share their stories with long voice mail messages and lengthy emails. When we were still working together at Monster, Lauren and I would grab a speaker phone and listen to peoples’ messages together. We’d be in tears. It’s incredibly touching to have a stranger open up to share their grief with such honesty and emotion.
Lauren is so matter-of-fact and laid back that I used to think she was almost unemotional about her mum’s death. I don’t mean she didn’t miss her mum – I just thought maybe that’s how she coped. Later I learned how her mother had helped the family deal with her death as it was happening. Lauren was able to say goodbye and now seems at peace with her loss. I was 16 when my mum died and there are a lot of things I wish I could say to her now. I really admire Lauren’s strength and calm that I think comes from acceptance.
I felt my mother’s absence intensely when my first child was born two years ago. I had a beautiful new baby girl and with her birth came the old feelings of grief and sadness I felt when my mother died. It took some time to connect my profound loneliness, new found fear of dying and reborn longing for my mother to the birth of my daughter. I’d reached a new milestone in life and my mum wasn’t there to share it with me.
I think most women worry at some point if they have what it takes to be a good mother. Without a mum to look to for guidance and advice, the idea of motherhood can be particularly daunting. Lauren always says that she knows her mum can still see her now. I think this faith supported Lauren when her son was born in September – she is a wonderful, nurturing mother.
Trees for Mum is a rewarding project and a special way to remember and celebrate my mum. I feel very lucky that I’ve had Lauren to share it with.