The Roses
It was a bad year for the roses.

March roared in and collapsed my world. My mother, friend, and lifelong mentor
lay in a hospital bed dying from cancer. As I sat by her bedside watching her life
slip through my hands, my husband came in with roses fresh from our garden.
They were beautiful, delicate, peach-colored roses that filled the air with a
perfume of hope.

In April, she passed away, leaving me to deal with the hole in my heart and the
void in my life. The funeral was beautiful, if funeral's can be beautiful. They
covered her casket in a spray of those beautiful peach-colored roses. Then, the
friends left. The phone calls stopped. Tears came like a flood every time I went to
her house, to tend to the things that needed to be done in her absence.

By May, my grief overwhelmed me. I carried bouquets of those peach-colored
roses and placed them by her grave. I answered cards, letters, clipped obituaries
and wrote thank-you notes, busying myself so as not to notice her absence.

Not long into June, I decided to create a tribute to this woman who so shaped my
life. I dried some of those peach-colored roses and crafted an arrangement to
frame her photograph. I worked at the same table where we sat together and she
said "Grace" over the years. It was a sad place to sit now, in her absence.

When July arrived, the roses were dying from the heat. Maybe they just missed
her as much as I did. So many times I wanted to call her and tell her something
funny that happened to me that day, or to cry on her shoulder, or ask her a
question that only she would know the answer. My life became a vacuum as I
became acutely aware of the permanency of her absence.

August was just as hot, and my soul was still dying like the roses. I felt as if I was
violating her privacy, having to go through her belongings. After the estate sale, I
stood in the empty house and fully felt the weight of her absence.

A few months later, I had to pick out another beautiful spray of roses for my
father's casket. With his passing, my life had become as empty as the rosebushes
in the garden that now refused to bear roses. I felt so vulnerable and insignificant
on this huge plane, all alone in their absence.

Somehow, life does go on. Still missing them both, I cherish the things they left
behind:  priceless memories, precious siblings, and a deep sense of their undying
love. It's been nearly a year now, and the roses are blooming again as they stand
tall and lift their buds to the warm sunshine.

Mimicking the roses, I stand tall and raise my face to the Heavens, knowing I still
have enough life left in me to bloom again.
©  Ferna Lary Mills
Rainbow Faith, words of Inspiration, Faith & Hope for the bereaved.
A Christian Grief Ministry
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