I've written very similar posts to this but I make no apologies for reposting this.
Almost 20 years ago, in another year when November 3rd was on a Friday, we received a shocking phone call. The Babe Magnet's beautiful and beloved younger sister had set off to work in her new car and never arrived. She was involved in a terrible accident and the appalling head injuries she received meant that she never recovered consciousness.
She was the BM’s little sister – the baby in the family – she had two young children, then aged ten and twelve, and her death devastated us all.
The following July her birthday came round as a desperately empty date. There were no presents to wrap and deliver, no cards to send. But we had to mark the day somehow, So the BM and I went to the local garden centre where I bought a beautiful rose bush. The flowers are a deep, burnt orange colour with a golden centre, and the rose’s official name is ‘Remember Me’. We planted the rose bush in our garden, with the other roses we have.
It has now been there for nineteen years. The other rose bushes grow and flower and are beautiful all the summer. This rose, known as Julie’s rose, has three separate flowerings Every summer, it puts out leaves, then buds, tightly curled buds that only unfurl slowly- slowly. Other roses around it flower much earlier, but this one seems to wait to open into full bloom , without fail, in the week of July 5th – my sister-in-law’s birthday. The next time the beautiful blooms appear is in September when it should be her wedding anniversary. And then, in November, the week of her death, in spite of the cold and greyness of the weather, there is always one last flurry of flowers opening up as if in memoriam.
I’m not quite sure what this really means. I’ve tried to do things in ways that might change them slightly – prune the rose bush slightly differently, feed the roots more - or less . The weather conditions should surely affect the way it flowers? But nothing seems to change its flowering pattern in any way. And this week, it's just the same. This is the anniversary of that accident week and the rose that illustrates this post is her rose, photographed this week, blooming beautifully, right on cue. I thought it was the only rose we had in flower in the garden - until I looked closer.
I don’t have a great explanations for why this happens except that as a message of love between Julie, her mother, the BM and me, it’s just about perfect. And why we should never let those we love go without telling them how we feel about them. It's as if Julie is saying - 'Don't forget me' - as if we could ! Or her mother.
And it reminds me once again that love is the strongest possible force humanity has. Love is the strength we have to carry on in the face of horror, tragedy and loss. That’s why I write about it.
I wish every one of you the special warmth that love can bring in your hearts today – and always