Break my heart, nourish my soul.

When I arrived on the island on Sunday, I immediately ran out to the beach to say hello.

…and fell in love all over again.

I was greeted by two playing dolphins, sun, waves, soft sand, and this:

The Valentine’s Tree.

Mom explained to me that two months earlier it was the community Christmas tree and was organized by a lovely woman named Jennifer, who first started decorating the lonely driftwood that washed up onto shore. She placed tinsel and ornaments on the tree to first make her happy, but she inspired the whole island to giveback and smile.

While searching the decorations and cards tied to the tree, I found a note from Jennifer’s family.

And with that, my heart broke.

A mere seven days before my arrival at my happiest-place-on-earth a woman who spread joy lost her life just shy of her 70th birthday. Her family lost their light, but they held onto Jennifer’s joy and started a love tree.

I can only imagine the tears shed while they decorated the tree in red and pink. I had to say “hello”, “goodbye”, “I’m sorry” and “thank you” the only way Jennifer wanted me to.

Love and sparkles from a complete stranger who is now part of the community (who feels like part of the family), signed with condolences and placed high on a branch.

Thank you, Jennifer, for this experience. I will always remember it and you.

As I walked the 2 miles along the beach back to the condo I couldn’t help but smile. There is just something about St. Simons Island that is so good for the soul.