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The Breathing Roses

As much as we love true romantic love, our lives are full of friendships and other loves, big and small. These friendships make our moments rich, like fertile soil. They help us grow, they challenge us, they encourage us, they keep us grounded and nourished. This post is intended to honor all the relationships that make life lush, especially those among women. In the last few years, we’ve seen some poignant examples of how important it is for women to support and fortify each other. Here's a quote to make you think about some of your friendships in the sweetest light, and the poem it inspired me to write. Enjoy!

But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The Breathing Roses

Close your eyes, and imagine them—the breathing roses. 
The garden of women in your life:
colorful, fragrant, sturdy,
rooted in the dirt, bearing thorns that can draw blood, 
each uniquely graceful, each uniquely flawed. 

The one who cradled you as a babe, overjoyed and equally terrified to love
something so much. 
The one who forgave you when you hated yourself the most, when you were weak and selfish and had lost your way. 
The one you forgave for doing the same. 
The ones you felt, across time and space, as you birthed your babies—centuries of powerful women who have borne that exact pain, for that exact love. 
The one you watch across a room, and know she has been hurt because you see it in the way she holds herself, and you remember when you once held yourself  that way. 
The ones who understand the exquisite joy of watching your children run and twirl and tilt their heads back with laughter, just as they know the crushing pain you feel when they suffer. 
The ones who push you into your own darkness, but leave you stronger for having clawed your way back to the light. 
The one who is still stirred by your beauty and strength, even when your hair has fallen out and you are frail and skinny and barely grasping a grey, wisp-thin thread of hope. 
The one who doesn't know she needs you, as she looks up from her nursing baby, tired beyond description, and meets your eyes. You know her fatigue in your cells, and she drinks your gaze even as she looks away, because she felt you love her. 
The ones who held you up when grief ripped through your body at your mother's grave. 
The ones whose fingers are interlaced with yours, even when there are thousands of miles between you. 
The ones who have wiped away both the tears you've cried and the tears you've laughed. 
The one you will always call first, even after she's gone. 

These are the women who stand behind you, lift your chin, make you look yourself in the mirror and believe again. 
The ones who dance with you in the wild night, and force you
to breathe the roses.


With endless gratitude for my breathing roses,