Lilies at Christmas
In wood fire heat, in closed-door warmth, the perfume rises.
White petals, pearl-glazed by glints of winter sun, release their incense. Sweet breaths of history blend with spiced fragments of the festival: old-English puddings, dried plums and orange (ashes on the tongue this year).
The lilies bloom: Heaven-scent, the Holy Mother’s divinity; the green leaves are her modesty, the stem her piety; dew-on-snow succulence, symbol of purity and birth. The trumpets blow and saffron-furred stamens tremble as we dare to sing with cracking voices and cheeks stretched tight.
Cut from the tightly-furled bulb, remembrance, these lilies are for my mother.
November bouquets (sent in hope) wilted to sad outlines in a lamp-lit upstairs window as her faith in the coming adventure grew stronger, the finest of her many journeys. She is over the border now, gone to her mountain paths and woodland gardens, dancing under pines and holm oaks.
The funeral flowers remain.
My beloved mother Joy died twelve days ago, and the funeral was on Christmas Eve. She was brave and dignified to the end, having decided against surgical intervention for the cancer that was discovered at the end of September. For the last six weeks of her life, we cared for her at her home in South London with the help of hospice and district nurses. She will be missed beyond words.
I wrote about her here, last year: Joy and my writing.