Sunday, June 5, 2011

Of Love and Beauty

Roses have long been symbols of love and beauty.

Just before taking these photos Wednesday evening, I breathed a sigh of relief when my mom called and assured me that, while she was not out of the woods yet, the outlook for a dear family friend rushed to the hospital earlier in the day was bright. It was promising, the doctors said.

To calm down, I went out front to take photos of the multitude of beautiful roses blooming in the yard. As I took these photos, breathing in the beauty of the day's end, that same dear family friend slowly slipped away. Not fifteen minutes after the reassuring phone call, my mom called back. "She's not going to make it," she said, her voice cracking. I hung up the phone and wept.

Liz was the nicest person I ever met.

Roses hold a special place in my heart because of my grandparents. I can't see a rose without thinking of Mema and Poppy. Poppy planted rose bushes - gold and red and pink - in my parents' yard. One gold bush remains, and on the night that Mema passed away in late October 2003, the dormant bush bloomed one last golden rose in the middle of the night. It was gone within a couple of days, but the memory of that rose stayed with me.

For this reason, roses have always been a sort of comfort for me, despite never having been a favorite flower or a bouquet I would bring home for the kitchen table. I wasn't surprised when John and I moved into this house and the front yard was bursting with a dozen or so rose bushes. I kind of feel like it was a little hello from my grandparents; a sign they still watch over me.

I also don't think it was a coincidence I took these photos when such an amazing person passed away. They are symbols of beauty and love, after all, and these are two things easily associated with Liz. She was wonderful. She was caring and kind and compassionate. She adored animals. She was the most loving mother. She was the most steadfast friend. I think my mom's friend said it perfectly when she told me the other night, "Liz was everything I aspire to be."

Liz was an amazing, kind-hearted and beautiful woman whose memory will live on in all of the goodness she brought to this world. And, for me, every time I see a rose, her memory will also live on in that simple love and beauty.

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