A Winter Rose For Christmas

Only the ice of winter could preserve the last rose he would ever need. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

Winter had been cold, and winter was never cold, not where she lived, first with him and then alone.

He gave her a rose the first time he ever saw her.

He was sixteen.

She was thirteen.

He gave her the rose on Christmas Day.

And he stole the rose from his father’s garden, and his father watched, and his father only smiled, and he knew that first love was seldom the last love, and life had so many thorns between now and then, and then always came long before it should, no matter long how it took to arrive.

The months took the petals from the rose.

But love remained.

And love bloomed.

And love, she said, always would.

He gave her a rose when she walked down the aisle and reached his side in a little chapel. The bells were ringing.

He was twenty-five.

She was twenty-two.

He gave her the rose on Christmas Day.

And he stole the rose from his father’s garden, and his father watched the girl say, “I do,” and the boy say, “I do,” and he knew that the first vows were seldom the last vows, and life had so many thorns between now and then, but now was all that mattered, and then seemed so far away from a man and a woman in love.

He gave her rose when their child was born.

He was thirty.

She was twenty-seven.

He gave her the rose on Christmas day.

And he stole the rose from his father’s garden, and his father watched the girl hold the child while the boy kissed the child, and he knew that the first touch was as precious as the last touch, and life had so many thorns between now and then, but life was now, and the moment was now, and first smile was now, and no one worried about then as if then would never come.

He gave her a rose when times were good.

He gave her a rose when times were bad.

He gave her a rose to celebrate a smile.

He gave her a rose to wipe away a tear.

He gave her a rose the day their daughter graduated from school.

Now it was high school.

Then it would be college.

Finally, there was a rose for another wedding day.

He stole the rose from his father’s garden, and he watched his daughter say, “I do,” and a young man say, “I do,” and he knew that the first vows were seldom the last vows, and life had so many thorns between now and then, but life was good and love would live as long as she had a rose.

He gave his wife one last rose.

He knew she would smile when she saw it.

She always did.

He had smiled when he first saw her.

She was thirteen then.

And he was sixteen.

And they knew nothing about the thorns.

They only saw the rose.

He still wore a smile on his face when he saw her the last time.

She squeezed his hand.

He squeezed her hand.

She kissed him.

And she said goodbye.

Now was behind them.

Then had arrived.

And it always came too soon.

Winter had been cold, and winter was never cold, not where she lived, first with him and then alone.

Skies were a slate gray, the color of a gravestone.

His gravestone.

The winds had a chilling bite as only December could bite,

She went back home for Christmas.

She came back home alone.

There would be no celebration this year.

There would no rose on Christmas day.

She walked toward the house, and the light grew dim, and the sky was as white as the ground.

She glanced toward the garden.

Winter had stolen the garden.

And that’s when she saw it, all alone as she was alone.

Ice had encased it.

Snow had preserved it.

The winter had saved her a rose for Christmas day.

, , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts