I sat, with my arms crossed, in the ice cold cabin, trying not to shiver, trying to stay brave for my son. I could see his breath freeze as it left his mouth, but I could not see his face, he hung his head.
“Son, do you know why the leaves change colour and fall to the ground when winter approaches?” I asked in a soothing tone.
He didn’t look up, he slowly shook his head; engaging in the conversation as little as possible, as if to conserve energy.
“The green leaves turn the sunlight into energy for the tree in summer. But they also use up the valuable water.
“As winter approaches, the energy the leaves can produce becomes less than they consume. So the tree does what it has to and takes as much nutrients out of them as possible, and drops them. Those leaves make the ultimate sacrifice, so the tree can survive the winter.
“Do you understand, son?”
He didn’t move.
“That’s why we have to do this, so that we can survive.”
He began to cry as I reached down to the shivering body lying on the cabin floor.