When you prepare to move out of a house, you face many good-byes. You start to notice characteristics of your home that you will miss, a favorite view from a window, the pathway from the recycle bin to the door, the way light falls into the living room. You start to realize how much you connect with the outside world through the protection of your home: the way rain sounds when pounding on the roof, how sunbursts after a storm create yellow beams in the backyard, how summer sunsets shoot blinding light through the southwestern exposure. And you wonder what you will miss: will the branches on our Douglas fir swoop a bit lower with snowfall this winter? Will the back deck be covered with pebbles of hail or glistening splinters of frozen rain? Will the western sky grow purple with winter sunsets?
And then there’s the rose garden. I have loved my roses and seen myself through their flowering. I have fretted over them, regretted them (fertilizing was a not-so-favorite task), nurtured them, appreciated them, connected with them. I have photographed them, written about them, and plumbed their metaphors. I have seen them grow old over our 20 years in this home.
Now I am saying good-bye to my roses. As the season wanes, the finality becomes clear.
The last bud. The last rose.
I do not know if future owners will tend this garden or choose to create something new, and I don’t feel invested in their choice. What I want most is to be conscious of this ending and grateful in saying good-bye. In that spirit, here are my thanks to my roses:
Thank you for being so hardy when I was a novice.
Thank you for blooming so beautifully!
Thank you for bringing color to our yard.
Thank you for giving me the motivation to get dirty and touch the ground.
Thank you for connecting me to others (and thank you to all who gave me gardening tips).
Thank you for inviting me into the pleasures of pruning (and for helping me understand the relationship to myself).
Thank you for offering your leaves to ladybugs.
Thank you for swaying happily in front of passers-by who commented on you.
Thank you for opening my eyes to all the other beautiful flowers in gardens everywhere.
I thought about cutting the final rose and bringing it into the house. But I decided to leave it in the garden, its home, receiving the rain and the diminished sunlight of autumn. I look at it every day as I go out and come in, and I will keep saying good-bye until the last petal drops to the ground.
Do you have any good-byes in your life now?
Questions for Reflection: What good-byes, transitions, changes, or losses are in your life now? What would you like to be conscious of, and grateful for, as you change and grow?
Writing Prompts: “This post makes me realize that it’s time to say good-bye to ______” (then keep writing); “I am acutely aware right now of changes in my ______” (then keep writing); “When I have to say good-bye to an important part of my life, I find it helpful to ______” (then keep writing); “I am suddenly aware that I need to be conscious of the ending around ______” (then keep writing).