A Scent of Roses

There are many stories about signs received from God in various forms: a dream, sudden comfort and peace in a stressful situation, a rose blooming when it shouldn’t. One such sign that I’ve heard of is having the scent of roses when there is no explanation for it. This is seen as a sign that the Blessed Virgin is praying with you and for you.

When my aunt was being treated for the cancer that eventually took her life, she and my uncle went to their parish to pray a Rosary. They were isolated in the pew where they sat — no one was within ten rows of them. They prayed together, and at the end of the Rosary, they were overwhelmed by a strong scent of roses. They both could smell it, and there was no explanation for it at all, except that it was a sign from God that His Mother was praying for them. While she did not live much longer, that moment — that scent — gave them some peace in the midst of their storm. It was as if God was saying that, no matter what happened, He would be with them. That His Mother would pray for them. That they were not alone.

When they told me that story, I remembered something that happened to me while I was pregnant with my older daughter; it put the incident into a completely different light. 

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I’ve written many times before about my experiences with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I remember when it hit me at about 5 1/2 weeks with my older daughter. I had only discovered I was pregnant a few days before, and I hadn’t even gotten to my first appointment to confirm with my doctor that I was, indeed, pregnant. My mother drove me to my doctor’s appointment, where I sat miserably on the table, throwing up occasionally. (I carried my own bowl wherever I went. Emesis bowls are stupidly small.) My doctor helped me make an appointment with an OB, and Mom drove me home again. I was in the hospital before I even made it to that appointment. My OB ordered an ultrasound to see if I was pregnant with twins (and to rule out any abnormalities that he, gratefully, never mentioned to me). I’d been admitted through the ER, and was vomitting about every 15 minutes, even waking up to do so. There were two ultrasound technicians, and they wheeled me into the tiny room and helped me get onto the table.

Suddenly, and throughout the entire ultrasound, I was completely overwhelmed by a strong smell. It was heavy and flowery and sweet, and it made me so sick I threw up right there on the table. (I’m sure I was such a blessing to those poor techs!) But the flowery scent never dissapated. All I could think was, “Why is that tech wearing so much perfume?”

At the time, I had never heard of the rose scent as a sign from God, but this is the most likely explanation I have for this. Nurses in hospitals don’t wear perfume; there are too many allergies and sensitivities that patients might have, so it’s simply not allowed. It was only a few years ago that I realized that this was a sign from God and His Mother — a sign that I wasn’t alone. And, indeed, I did pray like never before when I was pregnant with my now-seventeen year-old. I grew closer to God through prayers and Rosaries and the darkness of HG. And looking back on that time, I am deeply grateful that God gave me a sign. I even received another sign when I wound up in the hospital again – this time with pnuemonia and a new prescription for Thorazine. That sign was a dream about a little girl with blonde hair, and it was in response to a prayer asking God to tell me if my baby was okay. (We didn’t learn she was a girl for sure until my ultrasound at about 30 weeks.)

Sometimes, God does give us a sign in our darkest hour, but we don’t recognize it for some reason. We might be ignorant of what’s happening, or we might be so wrapped up in our pain and suffering that we miss it completely. What’s most important isn’t the sign — or whether or not you get one at all — but the knowledge that God will not leave us alone. When we reach out for Him, He is there for us. It’s His great mercy that sustains us. It’s His mercy that ensures He will not forget us.

You don’t need a scent of roses to know God is here with you. There are always signs around you: a friend who calls you or sends you a text at the right time, a letter in the mail that surprises you, or even a beautiful sunset as you walk out of work on a chilly winter evening. God works through our physical world and our family and friends to reach out to us. And, very often, He works through you to reach someone else. Maybe today, you are His sign for someone.

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