“For love is strong as death”

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Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 7.05.50 PMI met my friend’s mother for the first time when I stayed at her house many, many years ago. I think we may have both still been in college at the time. I remember her mother as a quiet, petite woman with blonde hair swept back into an elegant, old-fashioned bun. She had a gentle, golden presence.

My friend’s mother, like mine, was an émigré and spoke in softly accented English. She, like my own mother, was a gifted gardener. Her garden, like my mother’s, was an exquisite masterpiece wrought of love and an instinctual eye for beauty. If my memory serves me correctly, her mother, like my own, loved peonies best of all. When my friend and I recently reconnected, we made the sad discovery that both of our mothers were suffering from the same, fairly rare disease.

Last week she wrote to tell me that her mother had just lost her battle with the disease. I never have the right words for moments like these, so I am borrowing Edna St. Vincent Millay’s instead:

Dirge Without Music

This is for you and your mom, my dear friend. In my mind, she is in a beautiful garden. She is in a skirt and a blouse with a cardigan draped over her shoulders. She is bending to smell the lovely fragrance of a peony.

Sending you oceans of love.

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.” -Song of Solomon

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