love

He Brings Her Flowers.

 

 He picks her flowers on his way to work.

Pink confetti rains down on his head, a secret smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

‘Who is she?’ I wonder as I pass him. Our eyes meet and a million stories swim in his topaz depths.

I imagine her joy as he presents her with the plucked embodiment of his love. That beautiful bunch of ‘I saw these and thought only of you.’

Perhaps she is a new lover, dark hair tumbling over a crisp white pillow. He leaves her sleeping, admiring the way her ruby lips curve deliciously, pouting through vivid dreams. He longs to wake her with kisses, but resists. She needs her rest. She wakes to find the blooms laid beside her, the heavenly scent a promise for the night ahead. She must wait the whole day to thank him with her satin touch.

Maybe she is his wife. He has picked the same flowers that he presented to her with shaking hands on their first date. He creeps up behind her at the kitchen bench and spins her round, close to his chest. The years have seen them grow together, through heartache and tears, through triumphs and exhilaration. The small betrayals of everyday life melt away into their story. He strokes her face as he passes the bouquet to her and she smiles at the secrets they share. She smiles because the flowers, like their relationship, are full of promise, returning year after year to radiate their beauty to the world.

I wonder if she is an elderly neighbour;  alone these days, her once-bustling home echoing the ghostly laughter of days gone by. He visits her on his morning walk, delighting in the way her world lights up at the sight of him. The flowers are a lifeline for her. They are a reminder that to someone, she is still somebody; a somebody worth a riot of colour and beauty, even as her own is slowly dulled by the passing of time. She glances at them throughout the day- a canvas of tenderness, a reason to keep going. They are hope.

Does he collect them for a love from his past? He is a pilgrim on a sacred journey to pay tribute to her. He visits her grave, silent with moss and memories, and lays his precious bundle at her feet. Does he tell her she is remembered, always? The flowers are ethereal against a stark reality: she is gone, and will never rejoice in their soft morning scent. They aren’t enough, and can never be, but they are all the comfort he has in this moment.

As I watch him stretching up to find the perfect addition to his beautiful bunch, I realise that perhaps it doesn’t matter who she is after all. She is me, and you. She is him. She is anyone who needs a moment of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. She is all of us, and we all deserve flowers, once in a while.

First Published on Elephant Journal here.

love · Marriage

Thank You, to the Mother of My Future Husband

gmp

Dearest future mother-in-law,

In just five months, I will walk down the aisle with one of the most amazing humans that I have ever known: your beautiful son.

I don’t need to tell you how special he is, because you already know, probably more so than anyone else. What I will share with you, is that he lights my life in a way no one else has. He demonstrates a peaceful power, without conforming to society’s expectation of a strong alpha male, and I am left in awe, both of him, and of you. I know it takes an extraordinary woman to raise a man so unapologetically himself. For this, and for so many other things, you have my eternal love and respect.

As you know, I come from a family of women. My dad was outnumbered by my mum and three daughters. He complained about it, but we all knew he secretly loved the way we fussed over him and each other. Boys were a mystery to me. I had no brothers, and most of my similar-aged cousins were also girls. My first two romantic relationships introduced me to the world of men, and though they didn’t last, they taught me what I wanted and didn’t want in a life partner.

Then I met your son.

You showed him that emotions were something to embrace. 

He had the air of someone who was not afraid to be himself, a very attractive trait. I noticed his gorgeous sunny smile first, and his easy-flowing tears second. I remember being alarmed though. Tears in my household meant something was terribly wrong, and were hidden away. A stiff upper lip was the norm; a pattern I carried forward into my adult life.

I discovered later the true depth of his sensitivity. He is not scared to let his tears flow freely, nor is he ashamed. You never told him society’s biggest lie, that “boys don’t cry,” and you were comfortable in the face of his emotion. I realized his tears are a beautiful gift. He is connected with his heart and proud to show it. His willingness to be soft, and to let the world in brings a new dimension of openness to our relationship.

You taught him the difference between strength and aggression.
He isn’t a stereotypical macho man, and yet he remains deliciously masculine. At 6 feet 4 inches he towers over me, and yet, his physical attributes never intimidate me. His temper is slow to build, and when it blows, he is firm, with a composure that pacifies my quick and fiery temperament. You have taught him that a message communicated calmly with assertiveness, is much more powerful than knee-jerk aggression, and it is this peaceful warrior stance that commands the respect of all who know him.

You established the value of family.

He adores his family, which says a lot about you, and stirs something deep in me. You give him space to be his own person, but always make your time, wisdom, and your home available when he needs the strength of your love. I admire that. A man who values his mother, and yet remains independent of her, is a keeper in my eyes.

I have seen you live your own truth, that family are the people we choose to keep close, regardless of blood ties, and that appeals to me, because I hold similar beliefs. The way he focuses on fostering and maintaining a connection with you tells me that he will strive for the same when building our family, and that, I cherish.

You banished gender roles.

He tells me about his childhood with fondness. He remembers that once a week you insisted he, alternating with his twin sister and older brother, cook a meal for the family. You guided him and taught him the skills that he then, much later, taught me. When I cook for him today, he is grateful, because he doesn’t take for granted that the woman keeps house. This is a lesson that we want to take forward and instil in our own children, regardless of their gender.

You showed him how to respect and love strong women.

I am his equal in all the ways that matter, socially, intellectually, economically. My voice carries equal weight and he listens to what I have to say before we make decisions. I know that I am lucky to be with such a modern thinking man and also, that his respect for women was inspired by you.

I love the way that he appreciates my strength, and is not threatened by my successes. You have been a solid female role model throughout his life. He has watched you overcome your own difficulties to have a career, raise three beautiful children, and develop a loving relationship with his beloved stepdad. You have shown him that women can have it all, and now he wants the same for his partner. He tells me that I can do anything, and with him at my side, I believe it.
And finally,
You let him go with grace.

You will forever be his first love, a precious bond that I always aim to protect. As we move into a future where we share your boy, I thank you for raising such an emotionally intelligent, loving man, who has already made this world a better place just by being in it.

All my love,

Your daughter-in-law-to-be,

JoJo


Originally published on The Good Men Project here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

love

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

fairest.jpg

She looks at her. She sees her in all of her radiant glory. Her strength. Her passion. Her unique beauty.

And the biggest tragedy in life, she thinks, is that she will never believe it.

She tells her anyway.

“You are beautiful,” she whispers softly, “In the way that the forest is beautiful in the first embrace of the morning sun. Its dark imperfections framed in pinks and golds, as luminous sunbeams race to kiss the dew awake.”

Blue eyes stare back at her, unwavering, unconvinced. But she is just getting started.

“You are strong. Your body is a shrine to be worshiped, to nourish, to adore, no matter what shape it inhabits. It is your ticket to freedom, as it lifts, moves and dances you through this life. It is powerful beyond the physical, and if you nurture it, it will not let you down, despite the insecurities that claw longingly for you.”

She watches the silent gaze flick longingly along the length of her own limbs. She does not move.

“You are an enigma; an ocean of thoughts that glitter on tides, of secrets that flow in the darkness. Not all may navigate your hidden depths, but those who are brave enough are blessed with your treasures. Those who do not drown in you will return often to bathe in your calm stillness.”

Her hand reaches out to touch a cold, smooth cheek. Her expression is stone. Disbelief lingers still.

She won’t give up.

“You are a rainbow against the grey light of the passing storm. In a world of darkness, your love is the sun and people long to feel your warmth on their face for as long as you will allow them to.”

No response.

“If you believe nothing else, you must know just one thing. You are enough. Just as you are. Right now, in this moment. And I will love you, without question, until we are gone from this world.”

In the darkened room, the mirror glimmers back at her as though a curse has finally been lifted. Perhaps it has. A familiar smile tugs at the lips that she knows so well. She bites them shyly.

Her reflection believes her at last

Author: JoJo Rowden

Image: Marta Nørgaard/flickr

Originally published on Elephant Journal here.

grief · love

The Limited Edition {Poem}

oldmanbysea

He has never been loved.

He tries it on
Shrugging his shoulders to slip beneath its heavy weight,
Admiring its warmth, that cozy glow.
He feels safe.
Powerful.

He turns to the side,
Admiring himself for the first time
Drinking it in.
He’ll never take it off
He tells her.
Tells himself.

This is not an everyday magic.
Others will attempt to imitate her,
To recreate this love.
They cannot help themselves.
Yet they are plain, shallow copies;
A lesson in mass produced boredom.
They are cotton, and cotton has its uses-
But she is silk.

She is an exquisite lesson in burning desire
And soothing nurture both,
The stitching of lust and love.
This heart is a once in a lifetime gift,
An enchantment to treasure.

And when he lets her slip away
Remembering her softness beneath his waiting hand,
When he feels the cold empty place inside
Where once she draped herself-
He will wrap himself up
In regret instead.

Author: JoJo Rowden

Image: Alex/flickr

Originally published on Elephant Journal here.

grief · love

Every Saint Has a Past, Every Sinner Has a Future

grief · love · Poetry

Letting Grief In. {Poem}

grief

Rain drums on shuttered windows, a melancholy rhythm to our sorrow.

The sky weeps with us in desolate abandon, screaming to a Universe that will not hear us.

We are drowning in the hollow void of you, but we don’t fight it.

Not anymore.

I am unforgiving of the cruel world marching ever on,

As though you had not vanished from it.

Our world has ended.

The thought of you gone is too big to grasp at first.

We push it away, but it is persistent, nagging.

It won’t be denied.

It creeps slowly, mist stealing through winter frost, chilling our aching souls.

We howl when it caresses us with icy fingers, embracing us with pain.

It hurts to breathe without you.

We long to hold each other high above the suffocating truth, to save each other.

But grief is just too heavy.

I see you everywhere.

In dreams you walk with me, through dappled forests and rolling green hills.

The magic of the world is still yours to explore.

We joke and play, your laughter dancing in my head, infectious.

Your eyes twinkle with bright mischief as you relay one of your many adventures.

Death is the greatest of them all.

Waking agony replaces the gentle oblivion of sleep.

I am alone again.

I pray that it is all a mistake; that you were only hurt, not gone.

Your closed eyes are dark doors that I cannot unlock.

Death holds the key, unrelenting in the face of my wretched tears.

I talk to you but I know that you are no longer there; I cannot reach you.

Please open your eyes.

Please Let me in.

Originally published here on Elephant Journal.

Author: JoJo Rowden

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: martin/flickr

adventure · love · Spiritual

Lullaby by the Sea.

“Sky above me. Earth below me. Fire within me.”

In the twilight we drink tea, hold hands and watch, enchanted, as nature’s fireworks dance across the horizon.

Electrical storms spiral like screaming tornados into the waiting ocean, and the sky blazes violet-white behind shifting storm clouds.

We look up in wonder at a precious glimpse of heaven, gone much too soon.

We cook on an open flame, which trembles gently in the fresh ocean breeze. The smell of fire awakens something in me. Every bite tastes exquisite, our appetites heartened by sea salt and freedom.

Our laughter carries through the dusk, startling the small silhouettes that hide and seek; white tails flashing in long grass.

The rain creeps closer still, heralding the time to cozy up under woolen blankets. There is nowhere else on earth I would rather be right now, and no one else I’d choose to share this moment with.

It’s you. It’s always been you.

The lantern swings lazily from the canvas roof, a soft moon illuminating our tent with its celestial glow. We lay side by side, limbs gently tangled as we talk and smile and love.

We are content, listening to the sea boom against the empty shore,—natures lullaby, soothing us to sleep in her arms.

This is where I return, when I am weak, when I am sad. This is where I bring my fears, my anger, my pain. When life invades my head, and sleep evades me, you will find me here at the water’s edge.

I am stronger here, drawing my power from nature’s magic and making it my own. I am vibrant here, more alive.

I know who I am here, and where I am going.

Sleep comes easily in this place, and dreams follow.

~

Author: JoJo Rowden

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Author’s Own

~

Originally published on Elephant Journal here.