Imagine that you have a small garden…its not big, in truth, you’re not much of a gardener.
Its driving force was the mother of your children, both she and they long gone.
One Saturday, having just moved into the house, you all went to a local garden centre where she bought some roses, probably discounted.
Getting home you were given specific instructions on where to plant them…how deep to make the holes…how much fertilizer to use.
And over the years since, in that simple complexity of nature, the rose bushes have, -if not exactly flourished-, at least managed to hold their own against your pottering skills.
You water them and feed them and prune them and cover them with hessian against the first frosts.
Your favourite rosebush is that one that has the yellow and pink roses…you don’t know the name, common or scientific…but the petals are crisp and deeply lemon with a candy-floss-pink just touching the tips…and as summer passes, the colours begin to merge.
Its perfume reminds you of a newly opened box of Turkish Delight on Christmas morning.
And now autumn is here and the few remaining roses look overblown and slightly wrought.
Its time for a final, inevitable and pre-destined prune before winter.
There are perhaps eight or nine small buds left on the bush, curled tightly like a toddler’s sticky fingers clutching his new favourite toy…some faint scent remains, more woody now perhaps, more green but still faintly fecund.
Secateurs in hand you cut the first bud….and at that moment, as you diminish the rose bush, the bud is already dying, if not in fact already dead.
An errant thorn catches your thumb.
You take the buds up to your small flat, and place then in the water jug that serves as your vase...warm water…some plant food…and then you place the jug on the windowsill where it can catch the sun and becomes its own chiaroscuro work-in-progress.
Some of the buds fail to open.
Several flourish and even seem to turn towards the light.
Some last a few days, one or two last for a week; one in particular struggles on for two weeks.
Every night when you go to bed, as you switch out the light, you pause and remember all of those past summers, some with the children, some without, all still coloured by warm laughter and cool wine.
One morning, the rose is simply dead.
Black and withered, leaves and blossoms fallen to the ground.
You sigh slightly and throw the remnants away
That is what it feels like to be living during the four months you have been told you have left to live.