Wednesday Walking with Grief

in wednesdaywalk •  8 months ago  (edited)

I have three beautiful jars (or glasses, as I don't have any nice flower vases) on my windowsill and my stereo cabinet, full of roses. I'm not a rose girl, nor am I a flower girl really - I've always been a bit tough for flowers. Whilst many gush over them, I liked to do the oppositie. Why swoon over something that doesn't last for long, has little medicinal or edible purpose (yes, I learnt to realise otherwise) and is just a 'girly' decoration? Now the tomboy in me has subsided and I'm in the prime of my womanhood, or perhaps the tail end of it, I'm a little gentler with flowers, and they are with me. We seem to have come to some kind of understanding.


And so, on Wednesday's walk, I stopped to quite literally smell the roses. We've been taking all different routes around town to mix things up a bit, walking down streets we've never been down or taking little lanes and alleyways we didn't think joined anywhere, snooping in people's gardens and doing mental DIY on people's houses or dreaming of selling up and buying something smaller and more manageable. The route back though only has two choices - a long dusty track in the full sun, or a quicker one along the train line, which runs down the back of ours. There's a lovely blue weatherboard house full of roses quite close to the rabbit track where we cross over to join the path back up to the back of our property, where a big black lab rushes to greet us with a bark.

I rarely see anyone out the back - in ten years, I've spoken to the woman who lives there three times - just cursory greetings. About five years ago we spoke for longer as I admired her rose garden. Again, rose gardens are not my thing - but I was being polite. She sadly said it was a little hard to maintain, especially with her husband sick. So on this walk, when I saw her pruning her roses in the chill wind, I stopped to admire them again. Jamie had walked ahead, but there was something that made me stop and say hello. 'A bit windy for roses!' I smile. 'How are you?'. At this point I'm still slowly walking, but the tremble in her voice as she said 'not bad' made me stop. I gush a little more about a huge apricot rose that takes pride of place on the back fence. She offers me some, and of course I accept. I don't tend to display roses in vases but there was something in her offer that made me realise she was trying to give me a little piece of her beautiful garden.


She had sold the house, you see. I hadn't realised - the for sale sign was on the front, which isn't on our walking route. She was moving more inland, near where her children and grandchildren are. 'It's too hard to manage on my own' she said. She didn't mention her husband. She didn't remember me from our years ago chat. It was clear he had died, and the house and garden were now a place of loneliness and grief. No longer did he sit on the back porch and watch her prune roses. She filled my arms full of roses as my heart broke for her. Ten years, she said, she'd been making this garden. Ten years. And now - to start again! I reassure her she'd enjoy creating a new garden wherever she was, and enjoy her family. The words don't seem enough. I don't know how to tell her I'm sorry without prying, but I see the grief in her eyes. She brushes tears away in the wind and walks down the side of her house. She is done talking. It is too much, but she is glad to give me roses.


All day the roses sit on the sideboard and on the windowsill, and all day my heart is breaking. I think of my Mum who will lose Dad in the next few years, of my mother in law who lost her husband earlier in the year, the inevitability of one day losing my own man, or he I. Life is hard to bear sometimes. I take long, lingering sniffs of the roses, letting their scent calm and sooth me. My heart hurts. It feels like I cannot breath, or that I am breathing too much. I don't try not to cry. Better out than in. But I do try to distract myself. There is no point focussing on things that haven't happened yet. The roses are still in full bloom, after all.

By the end of the day, I have whipped the roses out of the jars to make a rose hydrosol, made by simmering the rose petals in a pot and catching the condensation in a bowl. I pour the rose scented water into a blue spray bottle, tap a drop of rose essential oil into the water, and a hand drawn label with instructions for use. I wrap it in brown paper and write a quick card to wish her luck, explaining how the rose water can be used as a cooling spray or toner, or simply a mist to spray and remember her garden by. I walk past late that night but there is no answer at the door, and the dog is not there. I wonder if she's already left. I leave it on the doorstep in hope she'll get it.

They say roses are good for grief.


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Touching tale

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Beautiful flower.

What a lovely thing to do for her! And your "before" photos are lovely. My heart aches for her, creating the garden then having to leave it.

I think many of us gardeners can relate. The roses smelt so divine. I do hope she gets joy from another rose garden in her new chapter.

What a touching ad emotional post I hope she does get your spray as it is made with your heart

Thanks for joining Wednesday Walk :)

Thankyou. I know its not a clasdic walk but it did seem part of the broader theme. I think she must have got it.. her car was there when I walked by yesterday. 💕

I don’t always do a classic walk myself and am fine for people to take it as it works for them 😎
Let’s hope she got it I am sure she appreciated it

Got a bit misty eyed here. You are so good at your imagery and really bringing the reader with you. Hugs lady! What a brave lady and it's amazing the love and loss we experience as humans. What a lovely gift you gave that woman💜

💕💕💕 love & loss, so painfully interwined! The thorn amongst the roses, I realise.

Yes indeed! It's a wild ride this thing called life 💜

It’s amazing how humans attach emotion to a thing especially in times of grief. What once was possibly a trivial thing becomes more important. I suppose,for the old lady, it’s the experience (the moments) she shared with her husband, tending the garden together, that she’s really holding on to though, also the years they spent together in the house creating their own lives and memories.

Good post.

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Thanks. I always wonder how I would feel, but I train myself in non attachment. I dont think I could anticipate grief though, and how I would feel leaving memories behind, even though they are with me, not the thing. I always think it would be tougher to stay here without my beloved!

Grief is a terrible thing, but a part of life. I'm not sure one can be fully prepared. I know I never am.

It's a shame. I was listening to a podcast this morning about it. Partly, it's due to how it's sold to us - we are taught to fear everything because it suits the mainstream medical paradigm. How wonderful it would be to see illness, death as just something that happens in this human experience. Suffering is only suffering if we see it as so. Hang on, that made me feel wise. Don't be thinking I'm wise - I'm just a total hack as scared as death as the next person.

It wasn't that long ago that death was seen in the way you suggest. It probably had something to do with the fact it happened a lot more - The common cold or a virus was likely to kill a person 150 years ago, for instance. Also I guess because some people believed that once they departed things really got lively - In places pitched to them as idyllic and heavenly. Not that I know though I guess, I don't know anyone who has been there and come back to tell the tale.

I've seen a bit of death in my day and to be honest I'm not scared of it. I'm not ready to go myself just yet of course, but the thought of it doesn't hold a lot of fear for me.

Death is a part of life in reality, for humans, animals and even planets...In my mind, knowing that brings more focus to life and living my best version of it.

A phrase I live by...

Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default

When I'm dead it won't matter anymore.

I hope she got the spray. Such a heartwarming act❤️❤️

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I saw her there yesterday at a distance, so I am sure she did.💕💕💕

Ah! Beautiful roses!
How sad that older folks have to leave their homes and families are more split up - not like when you had multiple generations living on the homestead.
I am coming to that stage where I know I may lose my husband (who is 10yrs older) soon. He came close last summer and he is getting weaker.
I can't see leaving my home that we built together and set up so we can manage on into our old age until I am much older but I talked to my neighbor and she said if her husband were to die she wouldn't stay on the homestead they were developing. That surprised me! Would you stay on your homestead if you were alone?
Such a lovely gesture and a fine way to carry a bit of her rose garden with her. I do hope she receives it!
Thanks for sharing!

I wouldn't stay... I would buy something smaller or go travelling or live in an ashram. Its too big to manage. I didnt realise your husband is struggling @porters... strength and light to you both.

yes our mortality is on my mind a lot these days, it is heart breaking to lose a loved one and i really feel for that lady. I love that you helped to lighten her load by taking those roses it is quite symbolic and then for you to make rose water with them, really beautiful and touching xxxxx

I have always been very much in love with flowers, specially Roses, Carnatians, Lilies, Tulips. I feel they bring out a lot of emotions within us and gives such a nice warm and loving feeling.

Wow, loss is such a powerful emotion, especially compounded on so many levels when you lose not just a person, but a place, a life. Such a wonderful act of kindness to make that rose water. I'm sure it touched her beyond belief and she will think of that act whenever she uses the spray. You have a wonderful heart my friend. 💚