Jilly loved sniffing the trees at the park. Catching her big red ball but not bringing it back to you, well, until she was ready. Eating her poached egg on Thursdays and waffles on Sundays. Sticking her head under the rosemary bush. And sneaking bites of strawberries when I wasn’t looking (or so she thought).
Jilly spent many happy days outside. Wandering around the backyard. Patrolling the fence line checking for squirrels. Finding ‘kitty candy’ in the flower beds. But one of her favorite pursuits was raiding the garden for tomatoes, blueberries and, of course, strawberries.
I loved that she loved so many things.
And after she died two months ago, I wasn’t sure what I should or could or would do with her ashes. Keeping them in a tin for a while was ok, but it didn’t seem right to keep the ashes in that tin forever. When we were planting our yearly garden of lettuces, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers, I knew what I wanted to do.
A garden of strawberries for Jilly.
There was one flower bed in the yard that was Jilly’s favorite. In the middle was a large, wobbly and very overgrown rosemary bush. Ok, it became a tree but that’s because I didn’t know how to trim it properly. It got so lopsided, that we had to prop it up with rope, over time, it grew in a very twisted shape.
My idea was to pull out all the plants, keep the twisted rosemary tree and plant the strawberries around it. Unfortunately, when the excavation began, we found out the rosemary tree had cracked roots and had to be removed. I was sad because Jilly loved that tree.
Turns out, rosemary plants are not easy to find this time of year. There were strawberries everywhere, but no rosemary plants. I decided to check one more place and I found the very last rosemary bush they had.
It was meant to be.
After we prepped the ground, I brought out Jilly’s tin. Michael dug the hole for the new rosemary bush and I gently filled it with some of Jilly’s ashes. We planted the small, fragrant rosemary gently into the middle of the garden.
Around the bush, we scattered the remains of Jilly’s ashes. Planted rows and rows of strawberry plants and covered them with mounds of fresh, moist soil.
As I planted each and every plant, I saw Jilly’s round black nose searching for ripe berries. I remembered her tail wagging when she found them. I sniffed as tears of love and loss fell in and among the new berries.
But mostly, I remembered how much she loved this spot. And how it will now and always be her own little strawberry field. Forever.