I met a lovely old 80 year old man yesterday on my walk, and I met him again today. He has so many stories to share, so many things he wanted to talk about, I guess at that age you get lonely. He had me in tears today as he spoke about his late wife. How he came to NZ and knew she was the one, how they were married for fifty years and at their anniversary party she asked him to spend the next fifty years with her, ovarian cancer took her seven months later as they lay together in their bed, him holding her hand so she knew he was there right up to the end. (Excuse me while the screen goes blurry again). There is nothing more powerful and emotive than a good love story, even the ones which have a tear jerker ending. Yesterday he spoke of other things, of love and loss but not his own and he inspired me to write. The character of Natalia jumped into my head and I just had to share her story… I hope you enjoy it.
The years have passed slowly but surely since we were wide eyed kids hitchhiking our way across the continent. Things were different back then, but they were still dangerous, especially the further east we got. There was civil unrest, some of it continues through to today. It’s sad to know that with all the death back then, nothing has truly changed for some people.
I was twenty three, and we had been married for two years. This was our big adventure before we embarked on a bigger adventure, being parents.
The soldiers entered our hotel our first night there, it was revolution, and we were hostages for change. To give the story would break my heart all over again. It still haunts me, I loved that man more than I loved anyone else, I would have died for him and he felt the same because he did. I still bear the scars where the bullets came through him and lodged in me. I woke from my coma after the rescue to find my world was shattered, my husband was dead and a single red rose sitting on the bedside table beside me. The first time we had met he had given me a rose, when he had proposed it had been with a rose pendant not a ring. To see that rose when my world had been ripped from me was more painful than anyone could know. It happened the next day, and beneath the rose were the test results, I was pregnant.
As the roses came each morning I was in the hospital I asked, no one knew, no one ever saw anyone come into my room with them, no one ever saw anyone enter my room, the rose simply appeared as I slept.
After a month I was discharged and returned home to my parents and a baby I would love with every fibre of my being.
The roses continued, each morning I would wake to a single red rose. The day our daughter was born there was a box, within it lay two pendants, a rose with wings of diamond and a smaller heart with the same wings, like those of an angel. I called our daughter Michaela, after the arch angel.
Our daughter is grown and married now, she has a child of her own. Still the roses continue, every morning. A guardian angel watching over me, never letting me forget that once I knew true love.
So many years have passed, so many roses and I could never bring myself to watch them die, even if they would be replaced. But what was I to do with each rose? I became creative, some of the early ones I dried and I pressed, then I experimented. Perfume became my main use for my roses, to wear their scent against the same skin that he once touched and kissed. No one else has touched this skin and many have wondered why that is, but how could I let another touch me when I know he watches over me and no one else could compare to the love I had with him. He is dead but he is not gone and there is nothing in me that could ever betray love.
One rose each year I do not turn to perfume. When I was still within the grips of my grief I sought out ways to restore him to me and that was when I met Elena. She was a travelling gypsy and we were in the south of France when our paths crossed. Everyone said she was the one to go to if I wanted to commune with souls taken from their earthly bodies. She said she could not, that he was not a ghost who was tied to this world, but when I asked her to know more she simply smiled and patted my hand. I was angry with her but she forced me to sit and drink her bitter tea, it calmed me. She took the rose that I had worn in my hair that day to celebrate our wedding anniversary and she touched it with her finger, before my eyes it changed, it turned to glass. She kissed my cheek and gave me the rose. “A perfect rose, still bright, this rose shall not die but it might still shatter. Just as you are.” We parted ways and yet each year, no matter where I might be she finds me and each year I get another crystal rose to add to my collection.
She will find me again soon.