One of my favorite smells, one of my favorites sights in the world, the rose.
A week ago, I bought a bouquet of multi-colored roses for my daughter for her spring dance recital. They started as a bunch of flowers wrapped in plastic, and soon found their way to my bedroom dresser, where I had the privilege of watching them slowly open up and grace my week with beauty.
The worst part about them, of course, is their fleeting nature, and I was none too pleased to come home one day to find that the cats had gotten curious and tipped them over. All the water and flower “food” that we’d dissolved in it was gone, papers nearby absorbing the spilled liquid had to be tossed, the dresser was quickly wiped down. Thankfully, once tipped back over and given fresh water, they thrived in subsequent days.
As they aged each passing day, I couldn’t help but dread their diminished color and beauty, and yet what I soon realized is that their fragrance intensified as they aged. Just like the people in your life. It seemed like an apt metaphor. The roses were trying to tell me something important, and I was listening.
On Friday, I found myself in the most fortunate position of being in the company of friends throughout the day. It started in the morning when two dear college friends invited me over for “coffee,” which turned out to be Pakistani tea with honey. While we sipped our hot drinks on what was a chilly, gray day, we watched the youngest child of one friend play with the dog and parakeets and “help” his mother with a spray bottle. We talked about the ups and downs of our lives and reveled in a longtime friendship; one that, for the two of them, began in childhood. I’m the lucky add-on, the one who came along late but who has been warmly welcomed into this small circle of friendship. Our friendship took off, really, in 1990 in Paris, France, where we bought and wore different colored berets (red, green, blue), ate banana and chocolate crepes and cruised to the top of the Eiffel Tower together, and down again.
Though some find trios challenging, we’ve struck a happy and beautiful balance, and are now making plans for a summertime getaway.
In the evening, another friend invited me to her “celebration of achievement” dinner. She’s surpassed the important milestone of final exams for her master’s degree and felt the need to breathe after a week of staying up until 3 a.m. to study. So she pulled together six friends for the occasion, each from a different sphere of her life. Some of us had met briefly before, but Bethlehem (“Betty” as she is known) is the glue that bound us together. A native of Ethiopia, Betty has a special knack for gracefully bridging one world to the next, and one friend to another.
Three of us sitting near one another discovered we are all former journalism students with husbands who enjoy playing the guitar. All seven of us have motherhood in common. Our professions all vary, yet coincide in interesting ways.
I was reminded how relational women are. We thrive on these kinds of connections, through which we can seek out the whole as we gather up our joys and sorrows into one place and revel in our many blessings.
At the age 42, I sometimes feel my friends should already be in place and that there are no new friends to make, but I keep being proven wrong. God has given me friends who are polished pebbles, always there no matter how much time or distance comes between, and I also seem to find new friends in my fold each year; people who help me stretch, add new colors and layers to my world I hadn’t known were missing, and help me more fully realize why I’m here.
Next week, I’ll be out of town for a few days and, while away, will have a chance to gather around yet another group of friends; more flowers to appreciate and count among a growing and blessed bouquet.
Someday, if I am given a long life, I may be shut in one room in my home and unable to move around well. I hope that if and when that time comes, I will think back on these days of many flowers and smile.