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 .