The Forever Rose

One of my mom’s treasures was a “Forever Rose.” It was a real rose encased in a fluid-filled globe which sat on a gilded metal base which in turn sat on the coffee table in the living room of our little farm house near Clyde, Texas.

While “helping” my mother clean house, I somehow dropped and shattered the globe, spilling the water and the rose all over the coffee table and the living room floor.

My mother cried. I felt horrible. In an instant I had destroyed the thing that my mother obviously loved so very much.

I was eight years old.


The “Forever Rose” was gone. In its place was a thorn of guilt that constantly pricked at my heart; even into adult-hood.


Many, many years later while helping my sister-in-law move, I discovered a “Forever Rose” in a box in their garage. The rose had deteriorated so badly that it was nothing more than black specks floating in murky water. So much for “Forever.”


The globe was intact and still sat on a base that was tarnished and rusted. Looking at the forgotten, disused, decayed object in my hands, I flashed back to that day when I had destroyed my mother’s precious decoration. Guilt, as old and blackened as the rose in my hands, resurfaced.


I asked if I could have the rose, and with one look at the horrid thing I was holding was told to please take it.


I cleaned out the old water and rose bits, polished the glass globe and cleaned, scraped and polished the metal base until my fingers bled, and went shopping for the perfect rose to place inside the globe. When I was done restoring the “Forever Rose” I lovingly placed it in a beautiful gift box, wrapped the box with some glittery paper, ribbon, and bows, and then on Mom’s 63rd Birthday I proudly gave her the restored “Forever Rose.”


As she unwrapped the gift, I could feel the decades of guilt that I had carried peeling away like the glittery paper from the gift box. I just knew mom would cry when she saw the rose, but these would be tears of joy and forgiveness!


I held my breath as mom lovingly lifted the replacement “Forever Rose” from the box and gazed at the perfect rose inside the perfectly polished glass globe.


“This is pretty!” was all she said.


“Mom,” I said, a little disappointed that there weren’t gushing tears of gratefulness. “Remember out at the farm when I was helping you clean house and I accidentally broke your “Forever Rose?””

“No,” she answered, way too truthfully.


With just a little bit of incredulity I recounted the entire event; the tears, the wailing and gnashing of teeth which accounted for the decades of guilt I had carried with me until the glorious day I discovered the replacement “Forever Rose” in my sister’s-in-law garage. I explained the detailed cleaning process of the globe and the base. I depicted the nail-biting during the exhaustive hunt for the perfect replacement rose, and then impatiently waiting until her birthday to give her this symbol of love which bore my own blood, sweat, and tears.


“Well, you did a good job! It’s very pretty! Thank you!”

Some things are forever. Some things are not.


I had been carrying that guilt and regret for decades. My gift of restitution was completely unrecognized by the person whom I had deeply hurt. My hurt returned, along with the realization that mom had long ago forgiven and forgotten my accidental transgression. It was a lesson to me of not only letting go of offenses, but also the importance of letting the offender know that they are unconditionally loved.


Some things are forever.


The “Forever Rose” that I restored now sits on a shelf in our living room beside mom’s photo and her urn. They are both reminders that nothing, except love, truly is “Forever.”

Out of gas

“Some things broke can’t be fixed,” Kaylee told Mal. She was holding a crappy, broken catalyzer in her hands. Their ship, Serenity, was dead without the simple, single part. They would all die without Serenity. Kaylee’s job was to fix the ship. There was no one else to call.

Beth is an analyst. Her entire job is testing computer systems to see what can be broken and then she and her team set about fixing the problem, no matter how large.
When Bryan died on March 29, 2011, both of our hearts, along with dozens – if not hundreds – of other hearts were broken in an instant. Beth could not fix it.

“All the King’s horses and all the King’s men…”
Some things broke can’t be fixed.
Real life doesn’t allow the players to solve a life-or-death issue in a one-hour episode. Bryan’s heart stopped. Ours broke, but kept on beating. That muscle kept right on pumping even though the arteries in Bryan’s body were running dry. Ours keeps on beating even though we wish that single, simple part would just stop.
“How are you even speaking right now?” Brent Jacobs whispered to Bryan on that blood-soaked mountainside in Afghanistan. Bryan’s life ebbed away. Brent was a medic. His job was to fix broken bodies.
Some things broke can’t be fixed.
Bryan visited me in a dream that morning. He couldn’t speak. (The living have been unable to tell me if the dead cannot -or, are not allowed to – speak.)
Near the end of the dream, or vision, or visitation, Bryan glowed with such a white-hot intensity that (even in the dream world) I had to look away. When I could see again, Bryan was gone.
Not even five minutes later, Tiffany told me over the phone he was gone. I told her over and over that I had just seen him.
Our world – our life – was broken. Bryan’s life, lived shortly though fully, was broken.
Some things broke can’t be fixed.
I would have traded every single drop of my blood for Bryan’s seeping through Brent’s fingers, soaking into that mountainside.
Instead, Bryan’s family (and by family, I mean everyone that loved him) have taken that broken moment and turned it into a living, beating organism of honor. Even though we all felt like we had simply run out of gas, we got out of bed each morning, we ate, we worked, we performed our simple daily tasks, and we shared Bryan’s story.

Life goes on, as painful as it feels. The world keeps turning. The sun keeps rising. The seasons change.

Broken hearts keep beating.

Broken hearts keep beating.

No one can fix a broken heart. Wise people refrain from telling us that “it will get better.” We refrain from punching unwise people in the throat. We do what we can to not only share Bryan’s story, but to share every grieving parents’ story.

If and when you feel like you’ve “run out of gas,” put your hand over your heart and call me. I can spare a few gallons.