For those who know me, you know signs are big for me, and I look for them everywhere.
My friendship with Ann began back in 1988 when I was thirty-five, and she was thirty-four. I was going through a tough time, and Ann and her husband stood up for me when I needed it the most. I never forgot their courage, especially her husband’s. He was a Vietnam vet, and he didn’t take any sh*t from anyone.
Our boys met in kindergarten, and our baby daughters were close in age. We spent a lot of time together over our 30+ year friendship. We shared tons of good times but plenty of dark times too. But as futile as life sometimes felt, we always talked each other out of stuff and helped each other bounce back.
And we had not missed celebrating our birthdays together for over twenty years.
That was until March 2020, when Ann died.
We spoke on the phone for over an hour on Thursday, March 25, and on Sunday, March 28, Ann was gone. Just like that. My casual goodbye to her on Thursday was our last goodbye.
Her family buried Ann in early April — on my birthday, which broke my heart. And because of Covid, there was no service for Ann.
So, for me, there was no closure. There was nobody I could talk to from the family to express my deepest condolences. There was no commiserating with her friends about Ann, or sharing funny stories, because Ann was a character, and we would have had a laugh, along with a cry.
She was sixty-five years old when she died and had recently retired. She was funny, intelligent, chatty, a gifted artist, and a blast to be around.
And, okay, maybe she was a little too chatty, LOL.
Ann had so many plans. She was looking forward to being a grandmother. She wanted to travel. She was going to start painting again.
And Ann was obsessed with roses. She drew them beautifully, filled her yard with rose bushes, and posted stunning photos of them on social media. Any time I see a rose, I think of Ann.
Last Thursday, three days before what would have been Ann’s 67th birthday, I noticed one lone, long stem with a budding rose shooting up high above the bush in all its splendor.
I took it as a sign from Ann that she was thinking of me thinking of her.
When I checked the bud on Friday morning, it had started to open up even more, which made my heart glad. Because I knew that by Sunday, the rose would be in full bloom for Ann’s birthday.
Unfortunately, my gardening service came that afternoon and cut everything back for the winter, including the rose bush!
I was crushed. The rose was gone. So much for the sign from Ann.
On Sunday morning, I went outside and noticed the rose lying on top of my firepit.
Whoever had buzzed the rose bush had saved the rose!
Ann hadn’t given up that easily!
It was a cold day, and the rose was intact but fragile — which also reminded me of Ann.
I gently picked it up, and as I passed the stub of the bush, several rosebuds were hiding in the thorny brush.
Because the rose stems were short, I needed a small container. I went to my china cabinet, and the first thing I laid my eyes on was a crystal glass that Ann had given me! There is no way that was by chance!
I placed the glass of roses facing the sun so the buds could bloom and live to see another day or two.