Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lilies and Roses

The scent of lilies is particularly intense this year. It might have something to do with the fact that there are three bunches of them dotted around our small cabin.
This time of year.
It's the month of lilies and roses
The month of my Lily Rose.

The fragrance is strong and sweet and lingering. As if it doesn't want to let us go, or let us forget. Maybe we don't want to let go. I bury my nose in the open lily blossom and inhale and inhale. It's the scent of the first few days without Lily when swathes of lilies descended on our home, when baskets of rose petals were collected by her friends to surround her coffin.
It's the scent of loss and love and strange sweet mourning. It reminds me of the days when Lily was still recent. When I could still say, 'Last Tuesday I took Lily to the dentist' or, 'Lily and I made beads last weekend' even though I knew she never would again.
Pots of lilies, bunches of lilies, cards decorated with lilies, we were submerged in their scent, their cool sweet petals which withered and dropped one by one as the days went by.

And this morning was the sickening smell of rotting flesh in Tansy and Leo's room. A dead mouse festering under the bed. I am generally the corpse remover, with a torch, a trowel and a long stick to manoeuvre the bloated body, fat and pulsating with maggots. The mouse tumbled into a makeshift and careless grave in the wood while I tried not to breathe.
It's hard for a bereaved mother to have to dwell on these realities of ravaged and rotting flesh. I try not to, I try not to connect the two, but my mind is pulled back to it, the little black demon at the corner of my brain clawing at me with his piercing talons,
'where's your daughter now? what happened to her?
It's easy to forget that everything will be like that, every lily petal, every mouse, every beech tree, every chicken, everyone you've met today. You. We are protected, shielded and disconnected from the physical reality of death and  its hard when you come face to face with the physicality of our corporal mortality. It's just flesh I guess, there's more to us than that..our bodies are the transitory container for our souls, it's just hard to remember, when all we think about is material stuff. 

After the mouse, I emptied all the flower vases. One was a cottage garden bouquet from my mother, long past its best except for a beautiful full blown pink rose with a delicate scent. Discarding the decaying flowers, I gently lifted the rose out, intending to put it in a little pot next to Lily's photo on the table. But as I rescued it, its petals tumbled off softly, like falling snow. I was left with a dried stalk in my hand. It was such a stark image that I gasped, but even as the tears sprung to my eyes I spotted what I had missed before, a perfect unopened rose bud still hidden in the old bunch...a promise of new beauty just waiting to begin its fleeting life.

No loss is ever without its gift .


  1. What a beautiful post Henriette. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. With love to you.

    1. Thankyou so much, it helps me to share with everyone... and receive such lovely messages

  2. What a sweet photo of Lily! I've been picking wild rose petals every afternoon for the past three days from a massive tangle of rose bushes in a more overgrown that usual part of the woods. I'm astonished by the change that comes over me after some time with the roses - I start out tense and nervous and thinking of all the things I really ought to be doing, worrying that each rustle in the undergrowth or snapping twig might be a bear (especially after one rambled across the lawn on Sunday, and especially because there is a 3-day-old deer carcass on the other side of the road attracting scavengers) but soon I don't care anymore, I'm no longer distracted, and I'm not afraid of the noises. Total peace, and I know it's the roses. I'll miss spending time with them whey they finish flowering.

    1. They are very special flowers aren't they...I remember the first time I worked with rose petals, drying them and blending them into teas on Vancouver Island I felt incredibly blissful....what are you doing with all your petals? It's so rainy here petal picking is very limited

    2. Yes, we are having a pretty wet summer too, so can't harvest every day but things seem to drain and dry out quickly here.

      I'm using the rose petals to infuse into the coconut oil I add to my Wild Rose whipped shea body butter. I also use a lot of rose petals in teas. I absolutely LOVE roses in tea. I make one with rose petals, elderberries, orange peel, and cacao nibs; my favourite!

      My lilies aren't blooming yet. I have lots and am always separating and planting more lily bulbs. They are the most amazing flower we can grow in our climate. They usually start coming out mid to late July and last a long time if we are spared hail storms.

  3. I lost a baby at 3 months of pregnancy at the end of April. I had a delivery in hospital (as opposed to surgery) and we discovered our baby was a girl, and we named her Ellie Rose. I know it in no way compares to the loss of a living breathing child who has been walking this earth, but grief is grief and I can empathise with a lot of what you say here.

    1. Oh Valerie, I'm really sorry to hear about your miscarriage, I've had a few and they're a huge loss. Sending you lots of love and hope you're healing....
      H x

  4. Hi, I was going to comment this morning but didn't know quite what to say! You write so beautifully about your daughter and such wise words - so inspirational : ) x


Welcome to the comments... I would love to hear from you too!