There is no predicting which trees will break, nor how they will falter. Some shed limbs as a rebirthing, others lose not a one. Some are sundered to their roots, as if a rotten core had crept up through the center of them, or had been birthed within them, had been inside them from the beginning, only to be revealed in the testing hour.
A pin oak behind my house cast down a dozen widow-makers, a proud magnolia fell into itself grotesquely. A pear tree shed half itself across my driveway. Branches speared the earth, some of them a foot deep, because when you stretch to heaven you have much further to fall, and your breaking is perilous to all around you.
To sum it up:
Sometimes the ones we thought strong topple, while the stoop-shouldered endure. They endure because they bend beneath the weight, they shoulder it as beasts of burden and within them is something like faith that it will pass.
Sometimes they get by with a little help from their friends, but they survive.
Two years of unrelenting drought killed off three of my trees, and surely weakened the others; yet the others are still standing, still green (or other color as appropriate), still keeping watch. It’s hard not to feel somewhat comforted by that, even as I mourn the departed.