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  • Writer's pictureDeb

Down the Rabbit Hole

The moment I walked by the white wooden arbor of lush blooming roses, the sweet, soft scent greeted me and wrapped its perfume all around me like a hug to my senses.  I had just arrived at the front yard of one of the homes on a garden tour.  This cottage-style home was painted white and had an inviting front porch decorated with white wicker furniture and overstuffed cushions, huge green ferns in pots, tables for tea, English décor and hand-painted wooden signs to remind the visitor to sit and take in the moment.  The front yard was entirely roses, and I mean entirely.  I thought that’s what I was there to see…these white and pink roses as tall as me and climbing on the arbor in front of this beloved porch.

I walked down the driveway toward the back where the garden volunteers were to get my ticket marked and was directed to a gate to my right, behind the house.  The moment I stepped into the entrance to the backyard, it literally stopped me in my tracks and almost took my breath away.  Words slipped out of my mouth like an “oh my” but I don’t remember now what it was.  I stood there for several minutes before I could move.  The best I can describe to you what happened to me in that moment is that it was like an “Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moment. I was flung quickly to memories of my past life, so quickly hitting all my senses, that I was involuntarily brought back to that place when I was raising my kids, still married and lived in another state.  It’s like when you hear a song or smell something that makes you feel like you are reliving something from your past.  But, this felt far more intense.

There was so much to take in.  I felt like a tiny Alice walking through a giant English garden-fairyland, but it was me and everything around me was adult-size.  Little girls feel like this when they get to go somewhere that feels magical with flowers everywhere, cozy and pretty and safe with several tiny cottages and seating areas to choose from.  There were fluffy cushions and crystal chandeliers and little waterfalls in the tiny pond.  It was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.  But what took my breath away and almost made me cry at first sight, was the feeling of all the memories of a time when I loved decorating this way.  My girlfriends and I loved to garden like this, relished in Victorian and English gardens, and we frequented furniture and garden sales bursting with shabby chic designs.  It was a time when I was pouring into “home” and loved adding all those little touches, filling every space with something that felt beautiful or cozy for my family.  I loved being a wife and a mom and walking into that backyard took me back there in an instant.  I thought I would be married to him for our whole lives, but it’s almost been 10 years now since our separation and following divorce.  And my kids are grown and none of them live in the same state I’m in now.  Things are drastically different now, but as I stood there it was like I was transported there in an instant, not just to one time, but years of memories enveloped me in just seconds.

It's crazy how our brains can take our whole being to a period in time, and even the feelings we felt, and pack it with so many memories in a split second. 

I sat in one of the cottages for a little while and stood in that garden in one spot for several minutes just taking it in: letting the sadness and the memories flood over me.  But the feeling that came after that is what energized me and gently scooted me along like a friend’s arm around me as I walked away with a sense of appreciation and awe.

Things have changed and that’s okay.  I don’t even decorate the same anymore, such a small example of a shift, but also a big insight when one looks to clinging memories.  I’m open to new things and I am creating a beautiful, new life.  I walked away thankful for the experiences I got to have as a wife and a mom of kids at home, and although I feel a deep ache sometimes over what was lost, and what I miss, I’m truly grateful for the experiences because they were rich and beautiful.  I will always have that.

On my way out of her garden I saw one of the wooden signs posted high on a cottage wall:

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is your future

Today is your life

Live it


I’m so grateful that I’m doing exactly that… Learning to live my life today, in this moment, with my eyes open to what is in front of me.  Life doesn’t always turn out as we thought it would.  But we can find joy and happiness again on a completely different journey.  Walking into that garden tour was like entering a personal museum of my soul and the sweet scent of those pink and white roses brought me full circle with thankfulness for yesterday, but also for today. 

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