I love yellow roses; they're my favorite flower. For our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband gave me (among other things) a yellow rose bush. Mind you, I'm not exactly known for my green thumb. In fact, plants have been known to cringe in terror when they see me coming - my husband joked that I could kill a silk plant and he wasn't far from the truth - but I planted that beautiful yellow rose bush in my garden and was determined that it would flourish. It did. For about three months.
In July of that year, my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, just one more challenge in a long list of health challenges that had beset him over the previous five years. For the next eleven weeks I pretty much lived at the hospital and the yellow rose bush was forgotten. The leaves dropped from its vines and no flowers bloomed. My husband died in late September of that year and I was sure the roses had died with him for I had never seen a more lifeless looking plant in my long, less than illustrious, gardening career yet I couldn't bring myself to dig it from the ground. It was the last gift he'd given to me, you see, and throwing it away would be like losing him all over again.
I met my husband when I was in my early twenties and there was an instant connection between us. Was it love at first sight? Definitely lust but probably not love. That needed time to grow. There was, however, a "knowing." I looked into his beautiful eyes for the first time and knew this man was going to play an important role in my life. By the time we married a year later, he had become my heart, my soulmate, and my best friend. We had a beautiful life together (and, as you can see from the Halloween photo on the right, a lot of fun!) and treasured every moment. Imagining life without him was heartrending but that's exactly what I was forced to do that last summer. He didn't want a funeral. Instead, he wanted me to wait until I was ready then have a party, a "Celebration of Life" with family and friends where we could gather and rejoice in the wonderful life with which he had been blessed rather than mourn the fact that he was no longer with us. He also made me promise that after he was gone, I would move on and find joy in life. He worried about that. Didn't want my smile to fade, didn't want my laughter silenced. He used to joke that he'd come back to haunt me if I let sadness consume me. He probably would have too.
Okay, so back to the rose bush. It was dead; I was sure of it. No leaves, no roses, no sign of life through the rest of September and October. Just a sad collection of withered vines. I had chosen the first week of November to hold my husband's Celebration of Life and had finally made the decision to dig up the rose bush afterwards. On the morning of the party, when my heart still missed him but was also content, knowing that he was finally pain-free and at peace, I walked down my driveway to get the morning paper. Halfway down, I jerked to a sudden stop. There, in the garden was that sad little bedraggled bush with one beautiful, perfect, yellow rose bud. He knew. He knew that I was going to be okay, that I would always love him, would always hold him in my heart but that I would find joy again.
I never dug up that bush. It still sits in my garden, eleven years later. It gifts me with a few roses throughout the year but most of the time it's a lifeless looking little plant with few leaves and no flowers. BUT! Every year, on the morning of the date that I gathered with family and friends to celebrate my husband's life, that rose bush gifts me with a beautiful yellow rose. Sometimes it's just the one bud. Sometimes it's two or three. Here's what I found this week, on the morning of the Celebration date. There hadn't been a flower on the bush since August. Coincidence? Maybe, but if so, it's one heck of a coincidence that has happened every single year on the same date. For eleven years. I like to think it's my very own guardian angel letting me know that he's watching over me and happy with the joy that I continue to find in each day of my life.
Have you ever experienced a connection with the beyond? Ever had a ghostly encounter? Premonition? Ever attend a seance? Do you believe? Or, do you think it's all just a weird coincidence?