Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Roses of Bereavement

I was talking with a friend who had lost his partner to cancer earlier this year. "How long has it been?" I asked. He paused and looked into the distance, his eyes heavy with tears. "Eight months and two days," he said quietly.

Bereavement is never easy. It's especially difficult when the person who is gone is young (she had just turned 44), has a family (a young son and daughter), and possessed a certain ability to bring life to the world (she did). I knew his partner only briefly, and she was one of those people you never forget: self-possessed, assured, strong, yet full of love and life force. After she died, the nursing staff at the medical center where she spent many months in treatment produced a video of tender and moving memories of her that was played at the memorial. She was that special.

So my friend has spent the past eight months and some odd days doing what? Gardening. He saw that the flowers at the church where her memorial was held needed tending, and he has been there practically every day since. The roses have flourished under his skilled attention. They grace the church alter on Sunday mornings, and he brings them regularly to the Starbuck's he and his partner considered "theirs."

As we were talking, it reminded me, again, that we touch so many lives in ways we will never know. The dozens if not hundreds of customers at the Starbuck's may not know who brought the roses, but they are seen, and a hundred days are brightened by just that much. In this way, the bereavement it channeled and transmuted into a gift for everyone. And a young life that has ended continues to change the world.


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