I remember the first day I saw it.
Petals pristine and white and beautiful. A delicate stem, leaves and tiny thorns scattered softly along its length, the silky black ribbon looped in a careful knot around it, holding tight to a small piece of paper with words scrawled in black ink. A sweet fragrance that drifted to my nose as I bent down to pick it up.
It was snowing.
You gave me more flowers as time went on. I kept every one. Did I ever tell you that? I don't think I ever got a chance to.
I had been getting ready to leave to meet you when the phone rang.
I could barely breathe as I walked into the room. Everything was white and orderly, but how could it be? How could the world stay sane when everything I know is falling apart? When I was seeing you like this?
Nothing got better. But I visited you every day, and would sit by your side as long as I could. Sometimes you wouldn't wake, and that was when I worried most. But then the next day you would be eagerly waiting for me, and I'd think that everything would be fine again.
The sky was bright, so bright as I passed through the doors that day. But the minute I saw you, I knew that I wouldn't be coming back.
Don't wait for me, I said. I know you're ready, but I don't want you to go. But I can't watch you hurt for any longer.
You took my hand, and you promised me...
It rained that day.
I couldn't cry. I could just stare numbly at the freshly laid earth, shroud in darkness. Not believing.
Even though I watched you die.
I am empty now.
The flowers lie on the table, wilting away to nothing. Their scent, once so beautiful, is now sickly sweet. It hurts my head.
Don't cry, you said. I could hardly stop myself from it as I sat in the cold metal chair, watching you wilt away like the flowers; grow paler and weaker with every passing day. But I didn't. How could I cry, when the only one that should have been was you?
When you lay on the bed, you wanted me to describe the view out the window. You were too weak then. My voice was choked as I did as you asked, knowing that it wouldn't be long, now.
You wanted me to describe what I saw then, and I want to describe it for you now. I know you'll listen.
It's spring now. I look out my window and see a world reborn. The birds chirrup sweetly in the trees, and the sunlight bathes the earth in a soft golden glow. The flowers are blooming, poking their heads out of soil that has finally unfrozen. Can you see them? White roses. It's been a long time since I could dare look at one.
But is this the thorns? This agony that I feel, this pain that rips through my heart and my soul? I ache to remember all that time I might have spent with you, but that was when I didn't know. But I know now.
I wish I could see you smile one more time, just to know that you remember me to.
You could be just a breath away, and how am I to know?
I walk outside and into the light.
I remember, now. I remember the promise you made me. I thank you for everything. Everything you gave me, everything you said. I will cherish everything you gave me, always. You made me a promise, and now it's time for me to make mine. I promise that... I won't forget. I will always remember.
I pluck a newly opened bud from its stem, carefully fingering the smooth, silken white petals. I slowly let a petal float to the ground, then set down the flower next to the others. And I walk away.
The roses, every one of them... Is this you? Is this your silent voice calling to me? I was never much of a believer, even though you were. But I know you're there, just as surely as the roses that will ever bloom.
I think I can smell their sweet fragrance now.