Friday, March 13, 2009

The first rose

Ella's rose didn't flower last year.

It's a beautiful Autumn-blooming fragrant rose, deeply coloured with hues of pinks and purples. In full flower, it looks ridiculously gorgeous.

A childhood friend gave this gift to me five years ago, on her first (mercifully short, for we were still not great company) visit to see how we were going after Ellanor died. I remember looking at her standing in my kitchen, concern etched on her face, and me apologising that I just "can't do it, I can't be cheerful this time, Treen..." and she marvelled with me then that I was actually still standing. She didn't need me to "be" anything, she assured me. I could relax then, for I heard that she understood. But I was completely bereft. Concerned that the me I knew, who she knew, who all around me knew, was lost forever. I had always been able to make my friends smile, giggle, belly laugh in fact. Now, despite my sense of humour, I couldn't do it. I was heartbroken, doubly so that I was not being for my friends and family what they'd come to know and love. Would they love the new, broken me? The pain and fear was so huge.

This girl is salt of the Earth stuff. She's just great. I am ashamed to admit, I don't contact her nearly enough. Ours is one of those enduring friendships, across miles, across faith differences, across other mutual friendships that have ended around us. And always, there is this friend. We went to kindergarten together. Then high school. Then we parted ways. I married, she moved overseas to live. But even still, she's a firm fixture in my mind.

And the gesture that day, of giving us the rose, this "Eternal Moon" - from her and her family - is something I always give thanks for each time I pass by the planter at our front doorstep.

I don't know why I didn't plant it in the garden in my already thriving rose garden of our old place. A blessing, I guess, in disguise because I would have been very sad to part with it if ever we moved. I chose a heavy, simple sandstone planter - something that made two removalists groan and curse when they had to move it here last year - and have watched it wilting in this relentless heat.

I honestly don't know how I didn't see the buds on it. It's as if they literally sprung up overnight last night. Because today, a flash of colour caught my eye. Oh wow, two opening buds! And more. At least half a dozen more. I was doubting I'd ever see it flower to its former glory again, fearing the different conditions here (it's notably cooler, not more than ten minutes' drive up the road, like a more mountain climate - odd and interesting) and the changed aspect towards the sun now had screwed it for good.

But no. She blooms. She grows.

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