Last night I awoke from a dream. Within the dream I was also waking up to find that I had several tattoos that I had acquired while sleeping. On the outside of my right hand was a large rose with buds and vines extending up and around my wrist. There was also a large display of roses and leaves covering the forearm on my left side. I looked at the tattoos with interest, and was struck by their beauty but I also wondered how this had happened without my awareness.
As I write down my dream I think of my grand-son. While at Canuck Hospice for children, during the last few weeks of Shea’s life, the roses were in full bloom. Accustomed to only hardy varieties that survive in the north, I was fully appreciating their abundance. The wrought iron arbour was covered with sweet smelling climbers, the stems, a mass of pale pink blossoms, extended up the circular archway. Elegant Tea roses in shades of virgin white to golden yellows and mauve grew against the building or were showcased throughout the gardens. Familiar Hansa rose bushes with their own lovely fragrance were also present, bringing a bit of my northern experience alongside the refined elegance of the other roses.
Although there were deep purple irises, scarlet lilies and lavender spilling out along the pathways, I thought of Shea as a rose. Their very structure, often protected by thorny stems making them difficult to get close to, spoke to me of Shea’s fragile little body. His skin condition was so delicate you could not hold him without a great deal of protection so as to not cause further injury. Somehow this made the essence of Shea’s spirit all the more precious.
The gardens became a place were I could sit and be still, where I could find some reprieve from all the colliding emotions that were tangled up in me. During this time I watched how the perfection of a rose would diminish and let go to be followed by the opening of another bud in its pristine state. One in particular caught my eye. It was of the Tea rose variety with high centered blooms, the colour was a flickering yellow cream, very soft yet stunning in its purity. I witnessed how this rose fully opened and then faded away, the edges of the petals browning and falling off. The impermanence of our short lives struck me. I thought of a Japanese aesthetic were objects that are in decay are considered even more beautiful because of their reminder of how we are always in a transitory state. That we need to be reverent to this change, even as we engage with the business of life.
The stark reality of losing Shea is at times a very harsh one to bear. I can only be grateful that I was able to be still enough during that time, and to keep things as simple as possible so that I could be with the sacredness of his little life, despite so much of it being beyond any of our control of how it would look or how we would be a part of it.
I end with this haiku, my blessings for Shea.