Excerpted with permission from "Small Miracles for the Jewish Heart" by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhal.

I had watched roses blooming outside my kitchen window for fifteen years. I loved those magnificent beauties, but I never cut them to bring indoors. Strange as it may seem, they lived only a few days each season before the petals began falling to the ground and the flowers disappeared.

One summer, we had a drought and my beautiful flowers did not bloom at all, since roses need an abundance of water to grow. In addition, I had neglected to water them because I was consumed with sadness. My beloved mother-my friend, my teacher, my confidante-had been terminally ill for months and I was heartbroken and helpless. Finally, one scorching day in June, the inevitable happened; my dear mother died.

On the day of the funeral, the ground was parched as the temperature soared to 100 degrees. When I returned home, I was greeted outside my kitchen window by the biggest, most magnificent red rose I'd ever seen. Not only was it exquisite but it was huge! Such a perfect specimen could never have grown to such greatness unnoticed. I am as positive now as I was then that the rose did not exist before my mother's funeral. It appeared, as if by magic, on that bush outside my kitchen window just after my mother was laid to rest.

All who came to pay their respects during that week after my mother's death marveled at the size and beauty of the rose. I looked out my window every morning expecting to see red petals on the ground, but the rose remained intact. Not one petal fell from it during the week or the next, or even during the entire month after my mother's death.

On one of those hot, dry, windless days, as my son, my daughter, and I sat outside on the patio, the rose and its branch began to bounce and wave wildly before our very eyes. We immediately realized that no other branches were moving; no wind was blowing; no blades of grass were stirring. We were all in awe-afraid to breathe for fear of erasing the enchanting scene. And then one of my children quietly said, "I think Gram is telling us something. Let's try to understand."

When I described the incident to a friend who is a rabbi, he immediately explained that miracles happen to us every day-that God often sends us messages through Nature-but that we must be open to receive them. He told me very matter-of-factly: "Of course, that rose is a messenger from your mother. She's telling you not to worry because she's doing fine now in a place of beauty and greatness."

And so it was that the rose continued to live and shed beauty and generate memories. When it was finally time for it to depart after eight comforting months, the petals did not fall one by one as in the past. The rose slowly shriveled up, turned black, and remained completely intact until it was dead. There it stayed on the branch until my gardener trimmed the rosebush and cut it off.

I had forgotten to tell him the story of my beloved mother and her special message in that miraculous rose. I often ponder what would have happened to the rose had my gardener let Nature take its course.

--Gail Raab

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