Friday, May 12, 2017

A Living Rose

These roses are my mom.

Summer 2014 - roses and bees
Not my actual, real life mother, of course.  But they are part of her.  They are, in my mind, a living breathing reminder that she spent time on this earth.  That she smiled.  That she loved me.  And that she is gone.

They were her roses – one of several bushes planted in my parents’ back yard in Omaha.  My dad was taking them out around 12 years ago and I carefully lugged one from Nebraska to Virginia, in the hopes that it would survive and I could plant it.  It worked.  And now, each spring it blossoms. 

This year's blooms
It doesn’t make the prettiest flowers – they are a bit scrawny and don’t have many leaves.  The roses do not have a scent, which always disappoints me.  Then stems are short so they are hard to cut and bring indoors.  And the they have some very wicked thorns – I have been cut by them many times. 

But for all of those shortcomings, I still look at the bush and smile every spring when ROSES APPEAR.  I am sure if my mom was still around she would have replaced this rather beat up rose bush years ago.  But she is gone, and the roses remain in my yard as a reminder of HER. 

I share this story to encourage you to keep a LIVING part of your loved ones when they are gone.  Instead of only holding onto remembrances like tea cups or photos, try and keep something that “breathes”, that lives.  Keep a plant, a tree, a rose bush…  I am inspired each spring when Mom’s roses bloom, and I imagine that you will get the same joy out of keeping a living thing from your loved one, too. 

Such beauty, and such a sweet reminder
Of course, this plan has a major pitfall:  at some point, the living remembrance item is going to die.  That’s inevitable and must be accepted.  I went through that a couple of years ago when a beautiful plant I kept from my mom’s funeral died.  I was quite upset, and when I tried to figure out why I realized that somehow I was trying to “keep my mom alive” by keeping that plant green.  And when the plant died, I felt like a failure, like I had failed my mom.  I was really depressed about it.  But, it did teach me a lesson, and I feel like now I can be happy and celebrate the last tiny living “piece of my mom”, the rose bush, while it is here, and am better ready to deal with the reality that someday it, too, will die.

So there you have it – Susan’s “helpful tip” for dealing with grief I guess:  keep some LIVING thing.  And when it blooms (or fruits or sheds or whatever it does), you will be reminded of your love, and you will smile.

(If you want to read the other piece I wrote about the plant from my mom’s funeral, you can see it here: Learning Acceptance (link)

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