As August draws to a close I couldn’t help pondering on how time flies. Of course it would not be complete without at least another blog about Roses as they are mostly at their best in August. But August is also the month my friend Rose died nine years ago. Her name was actually Rosemary but because for some reason she didn’t quite like it and preferred to be called Rose and it kind of stuck.
We went to the same church growing up and although I can’t really remember when exactly we became friends we did. Probably because we were only a few months apart in age, and because we were polar opposites in disposition something that is often inconsequential at a young age but begins to matter the older one gets. Regardless of being very different we went to each others’ houses for the holidays or weekends and had fun as little girls do. I remember I always dreaded arriving at Rose’s house simply because they had some really scary guard dogs. However, that fear was quickly abated as soon as I got safely through the doors . I was fine and safe , not that I was ever in any danger really. I always had fun and her family was always very welcoming. Occasionally we even visited other people’s homes together for a weekend during the holidays, such was the closeness at a young age. I remember going off to boarding school and putting on tonnes of weight , ‘puppy fat’ an aunt at church said , and I remember Rose teased me about my stretch marks which I didn’t appreciate at the time but looking back now it was all in good humour.
Her parents were instrumental in me securing admission into University, and for anyone who knows the university system in Nigeria getting good grades does not automatically result in admission. We ended up being roommates at University for about two years , as we were on the same course and that’s when the friendship changed. Simply because we were so different we eventually drifted apart. While I was reserved to an extent and often too serious, Rose was an extrovert, animated and the life and soul of the party.
I’ve not spoken much about her to many people but I really wish she was still here. Her passing was unexpected because although she was very ill and very few knew, it never crossed my mind that she could die. I often think during landmark moments that she didn’t get to experience so much of life. She never got to get married, have children or travel to ‘America’ like she wanted. Twitter wasn’t on the scene then, and I bet she didn’t have a Facebook account either , not that either are important, life just seems very different now compared to nine years ago. And most of all, her family which she was really close to didn’t get to spend more time with her. She didn’t get to do so many of the things she planned or dreamed about.
Rose was dramatic, everything was always exaggerated both the good and the bad, I guess she saw life in HD(high definition). I remember when both of us and a mutual friend were turning 18 a few months apart and we talked about what we could now do since we were technically going to be adults. We talked about voting or all the usual stuff about being adults and Rose piped up in an alarmed voice and said”now we can go to prison”. Such was her take on everything life offered. Rose was fiercely loyal to people she loved, a trait that isn’t seen in many this days. She sacrificed for her friends, sometimes at the expense of her happiness . Most of all she sought acceptance and to be part of something big or great.
I have a small collection of Roses in my garden which need constant care. They need a feed in the spring and summer, they need to be pruned to bring out their best, the old buds need to be cut off to encourage new flowers and the leaves need to be protected from aphids and other pests by spraying with pesticides. While you can do all this and sometimes the plant doesn’t thrive because it’s in the wrong soil or environment it’s an investment that can yield results if successful. For me this year my rose plants have done extremely well. My friend Rose was pretty but was also delicate. Thinking of her this month reminds me very much of roses and how much they need to be handled carefully and given loads of care and attention. Although I tried to be a good friend, I wish I did more, I wish I was more patient, more forgiving and more generous with my time and more gracious. My last memory of Rose was as we crossed paths in the capital city in Nigeria. I had been shopping in one of the markets and she was waiting to get a taxi. We said hello and chatted and said our goodbyes and I left and that was the last time I saw Rose.
I’ve wanted to put my feelings and thoughts about Rose’s passing in some format and I feel now is a good time to pay tribute to my friend. I didn’t get to say goodbye properly and missed her funeral service by minutes as I got there too late. But as a curtain closes on August, I ponder and am encouraged that she was saved and is at rest. We might had our differences but I still think of her and I know all her family miss her and so do I.