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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

The Rose Behind the Wall - May 2021
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

When I see a brilliant sunset, my mind goes back to my life with my husband Ralph who died many years ago.  He and I used to make slides of the glorious Kansas sunsets.  He organized our slides into a sunset slide show and set it to music.

Not long before he died, he told me, “Remember me when you see the sun set.”  So when a glorious sunset illuminates the western sky, I think about our years together. As I have watched the sunsets, I have wondered, “Just where are you?”  “What are you doing?”  Then I reassure myself that my husband is all right.  That he is no longer sick.  That he is in a happy place.  That he is probably welcoming old friends and family members at heaven’s gate when they arrive—that would fit his personality.   

For a few brief moments, sunsets make me feel connected with my husband, even though it is only through my memories.  So it is no wonder I can relate to the poem “The Rose Behind the Wall,” by Pastor A.L. Frink, written in the early 1900s. Pastor Frink compares death to a rose vine that follows a beam of light through a crevice in a wall to the other side, where it unfolds and continues to grow.  I too believe that our loved ones are still very much alive on the other side, like the rose that “still grows just beyond the wall.”  Here is part of his poem.

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding its sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length
And unfolded itself on the other side….

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive–
The rose still grows beyond the wall….

Another poet, Henry van Dyke, looked at death from a different perspective.  In his poem “Gone from My Sight,” he compares the death of a loved one to a ship that leaves earth’s shore and becomes a speck on the horizon for those watching the ship depart.  The loved ones on the earth wistfully watch and say, “There she goes!” But as the ship approaches the heaven side, loved ones there excitedly shout, “Here she comes!”  Mr. van Dyke continues, “They are gone from my sight.  That is all,” and he concludes the poem with “And that is dying.” 

Even though our loved ones are no longer in our sight, most of us have pleasant memories that were made on this side.  My special memories with my husband are of beautiful sunsets, songs, fun, and laughter.  And I sometimes see glimmers of Ralph’s personality in our grandchildren. Even though we believe our loved one is alive on the other side, we still hold on to our special reminders on this side, similar to a rose vine that spans both sides from here to there.

Someday we will also make our final journeys.  But until then, we can honor the life of the one who has gone on by how we live our lives.  May you find peace and joy as you remember your rose behind the wall.

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator