Do not watch the petals fall from the rose with sadness. Know that, like life, things sometimes must fade before they can bloom again. — Unknown
My husband and I have reached the point in our lives where we attend funerals with regularity. As I write this tonight, I’m waiting for the cake to cool that I baked for tomorrow morning’s funeral so I can frost it. It is always sad to lose friends and loved ones. Our faith is strong, and we have no doubts about what happens after our mortal existence. I suppose it is only natural, however, that as we attend funerals more often we begin to take a look at our own mortality.
It only takes a look in the bathroom mirror to see the state of our own mortal bodies, but if that isn’t enough, we can try getting out of bed in the morning. Tying our shoes has become an interesting process, as well as getting up out of a low chair. It used to be just the cold days that I had to run hot water over my hands to type or crochet, but I’m now finding myself doing that even on hot summer days. I’ve worn progressive lenses to see for a number of years now, as well as computer glasses. I’m a two pair of glasses sort of gal, apparently. This year brought me my first hearing aid. The petals are most assuredly falling from the rose!
As I rushed to the beauty shop to get an emergency haircut this week because my now silver hair had become long enough to make a rustling noise in my hearing aid, I thought about all the different colors my hair has been over the years. I was a blonde until the years of pregnancy. With each new baby, my hair fell out and came in darker. Four children later, I was a brunette. My son found my first gray hair for me. It was actually an exciting moment—I finally felt like a grownup! Each year since has brought more silver and less brown. Now I feel matronly.
I don’t look upon my mortality with the least degree of sadness. Yes, as we lose loved ones we are sad for our loss, but we are happy for them because we know that they continue on in a much happier place. All their aging and no longer functioning mortal parts will eventually be put back together—restored to their perfect frame. As for myself, I am looking forward to a time when my ankles don’t audibly crack after a long day. It will be wonderful to be able to walk more than half a block without finding someplace to sit to ease the spasms in my back.
I’m not quite ready to leave this earth yet, but as more petals give way and fall from my grasp, I think I will be ready to move ahead to a pain free existence. It must be part of the eternal plan to prepare us to leave our earthly existence by slowly deteriorating bodies. I believe there is a point when we transition from thinking we want to stay here to longing to return to a place where we can be whole again and blossom.
If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. . . To return to God through the gateway we call death is a joy for those who love Him and are prepared to meet Him (President Russell M. Nelson, “Thanks Be to God,” Apr. 2012 General Conference).
Those words are very comforting to me. It reminds me that our life here is only just a tiny moment in the eternities. Death is part of the eternal plan. I don’t want to be stranded on earth—not when I know there is so much more available to me. We tend to dig in and hang on to earth with all the strength we can muster because that’s what we know, and change is stressful. We don’t have to fear the unknown because it isn’t really unknown at all. We’ve been told from the very beginning what to expect when we release our tired mortal bodies. We should have no fear at all for the wonders that await us. We are going home. I’m reminded of the lyrics of a John Denver song, “Country roads take me home to the place I belong.” Yes, home is where we belong.
So as I watch the petals fall, I understand that they must fade away before they can bloom again. I’m not sad at all. I look forward with longing to better days ahead.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.