The Fragrance of Life

Have you ever taken a long walk through a beautiful garden? There is really something spectacular about it as you twist and turn through the cultivated landscape. The fragrances along the way fill your senses. Add the over the top scenery of the place and it only adds to an otherworldly experience. Most times, I hesitate to leave such a place.

As I walk through the garden of my life, each friendship adds a different fragrance to the atmosphere around me. Each is one of a kind, unique and can never be duplicated. This past month two of my friends have been transplanted from their earthly garden to their heavenly one and I will miss them both.

One was like a peony, sharing her fragrance with all around her. You couldn’t be in the same room and not notice her. She was beautiful and had a lovely disposition. She stood out with her sense of fashion and platinum blonde hair. Lest one think she was coddled throughout life, her personal history informs us of a different story. She was rejected by her family at seventeen for being a single unwed mother. She was put on a plane and shuttled to a different state to have her baby. Feeling unwelcome, she did not return home for decades. She remained where she had been sent and got an education. She became a nurse and social worker. She was compassionate and non-judgmental; always willing to hear someone’s story and extend a helping hand. She exuded the fragrance of empathy that all partook of in her presence.

The other was more retiring. She was an introvert and was content to stay in the background. Her fragrance was released as she quietly assisted others. Her fragrance was also born of difficulty. Her husband died unexpectedly and she was left with three young children. She returned to school to become an educator and never married again. She was creative and had a knack for decorating the events she attended. She was like a delicate Morning Glory. One would have to sit near her to catch her fragrance but it had a rich sweetness that only those who took time to listen to her would be able to enjoy. She exuded the fragrance of selflessness; a fragrance that is only found in the rarified atmosphere of humility.

As I continue to walk through life, I will miss their fragrance. Each meeting and event won’t be quite the same without the addition of their unique scents. The air will never smell as sweet again and I look forward to the time when I take my first breath of heavenly air. I know I will breathe their scent again and my life will once again be enriched by their presence.

Photo by Jill Wellington. Courtesy of PIxabay.


photo of man wearing brown shirt

Photo by Vikas Mani on

At the end of the semester, Carole and her three friends took a trip to Italy. They loved Rimini and rented a condo by the beach for a week. They intended to spend their first week of summer laying out in the sun and getting a dark tan. They arrived at the beach only to see it crowded like every other Italian beach but they didn’t care. They knew they were going to have a great time. 

It was a beautiful beach, as are all the beaches along the coast of Rimini. At one end of the bay, all of the yachts were docked at the pier. There was one that was especially opulent that stood out to them. They talked about it and could imagine the rich and famous partying there. They thought how fun it would be to be invited on board for one of their parties. At the other end of the bay, the fishing boats were docked. The Salvari Brothers had a large trawler but it held little attraction for the girls. Each evening they would watch as the yachts pulled out for a short cruise around the bay; the fishing boats would leave a little later and none of the water craft returned until early the next morning. 

Every day the girls had the same routine: get up, shower, don their bathing suits and bask in the sun all day. On their way home, they would stop at the deli and purchase their dinner for the evening. They would watch movies and talk until late at night. On their last afternoon, when the girls were at the deli, they met a gorgeous guy named Cosimo. He seemed especially interested in Carole and invited her and the rest of her friends onto his yacht for the evening’s festivities. The girls were thrilled to learn that his yacht was indeed the opulent one they had seen. They just needed to tell the security guard the day’s code word and they would be allowed on the yacht. The girls raced back to their condo, showered and dressed for the evening. 

They were starstruck as they walked on board the yacht. There were more than a few celebrities they recognized. They tried not to gawk at them as they took everything in. Cosimo came to greet them personally and introduce them to some of his friends. They were then free to tour the yacht. Each deck had a bar, band, dance floor and scrumptious food available. They enjoyed dancing all night and were sad when the ship came into port. Their magical night was ending and they would probably not get another chance to spend a night like this one again. Cosimo stood on the deck and as each guest exited, he reached into a crystal bowl and gave them a friendship ring. It had the name of the yacht, “The Cosmopolitan” engraved on it. Once they took it, they would be allowed back on the yacht any time they wanted. 

When it was Carole’s turn to receive her ring, Cosimo took her aside. He implored her not to leave and promised he would buy her an airline ticket home the following week. He wanted to spend a few extra days getting to know her. Carole looked at her friends and they all nodded and encouraged her to stay. They would bring her luggage to the boat before they left to fly home. Carole only hesitated a moment and then took Cosimo up on his invitation. He had her stand by him and when the last guest finally left, he took her to the suite she would be staying in.

Carole was intoxicated with Cosimo. Every evening, they partook of the finest food and wine. Cosimo kept her on his arm while he greeted his guests. At dawn they would return to her room and Cosimo would come in and spend part of the day sleeping with her. He would get up before her and later she would find him on deck when she arose in the afternoon. When the week was over and it came time to leave, Cosimo again asked her to stay and of course, she did. She felt like a celebrity for the first few weeks. She was in love with Cosimo and wondered where this new relationship would take her.

The summer was going well until one morning Cosimo didn’t come into the suite with her. He left her entirely alone and when she went on deck to find him that afternoon, he was laughing and joking with a young man named Marco.  She walked up to him and began to talk to him but Cosimo completely ignored her and showered all of his affection on Marco. Frustrated because she could not get his attention, she went back to her suite, fixed her hair differently and put on more revealing clothes, hoping to get his attention back on her. It was no use, the more she tried, the more he ignored her. She walked around the deck that evening in a daze. Other men on the yacht tried to give her their attention but Carole wasn’t interested. She only wanted Cosimo…period. 

The following days Carole grew more and more desperate. She realized that by now she was addicted to Cosimo and all he offered and that no one else could ever take his place. She had been rejected by him for a handsome young male with dark brown eyes. All of her feminine wiles could not compete with Marco. After trying for several days to draw Cosimo back to her with no success, she finally understood her chances of getting him back were nil and at that point she made a decision. One evening when no one was looking, she climbed up on the railing and then threw herself in the water. She didn’t want to live without Cosimo and hoped to end her agony once and for all.

She hit the water with a thud and then panicked. The water was freezing cold and it took her breath away. She suddenly awoke as if out of a dream and realized that deep down she didn’t want to die. If she really wanted to survive, she was going to have to do something. She started treading water as she watched the yacht sail away without her. She looked around and tried to find lights on the shore line. They were out far enough in the Adriatic that she couldn’t see much of anything. She began to swim but grew more tired with each stroke. The drinking, partying and sleepless nights were taking their toll. After swimming for a few hours, she knew she probably wasn’t going to make in to the shore.

She lay on her back and looked up at the stars. She thought about her life and that she wouldn’t survive to see her family again. Her friends would miss her and would never know what really happened to her. She prayed silently, “God, if you are real, please help me!” She took Cosimo’s friendship ring off and dropped it in the water.  She then relaxed and began to fall asleep. As her body began to slip below the surface of the water, she heard a small engine in the distance. She shook herself awake and began to yell, “Over here! Help, Help me!”

The engine noise grew louder as she kept yelling. The Salvari brothers had heard her cry for help and steered their boat along side her.  They fished her out of the water, used towels to dry her, and began to rub her arms and legs to bring the circulation back into her body.  As they were drying her off, she was crying and told them about Cosimo. She asked them if they knew him. Enzio, the eldest said, “Yes Signorina, we know him as the Spirit of this World (the Cosmos). He seduces young men and women into following him and some can never turn away from the pleasures he entices them with.”

The brothers then radioed for help and raced the boat back to the shore. An ambulance met them at the dock and took her to the E.R. where the doctors and nurses slowly got her core temperature up to normal. She stayed in the hospital a few days until her parents flew in from the States to pick her up.

On their way to the airport, Carole and her parents stopped at the Salvari’s trawler to thank them for saving her life. They were invited on board and stepped onto the deck. They thanked each Salvari brother for rescuing her. As they were leaving, Carole noticed a small bowl full of Cosimo’s friendship rings. She turned around to the brothers and said, “I’m not the first you saved, am I?” They sheepishly looked at each other and then Enzio replied, “No, Signorina, you’re not. It is not uncommon for us to find a young man or woman floating  in the water. They are not all as fortunate as you were. The Master was certainly guiding our boat that evening wwe found you.”

“The Master?” Carole asked. 

Enzio looked at her for a few moments and then spoke. “The Master’s name is Jesus. We are His FisherMen. Seek Him, Signorina, and you will find Him.” 

Carole thought about the things that Enzio had told her when she was on the airplane. How many other young men and women had been seduced by Cosimo and the trappings of his lifestyle and then been cast aside when he tired of them? She had been so sure she was in love with him and he with her.  She thought she couldn’t live without him but now when she thought of Cosimo, she wanted nothing more to do with him.

Once back in the States, she and her girlfriends got together again. They were still wearing Cosimo’s friendship rings like some kind of badge of honor. She told them about her experience and what he was really like but they refused to believe her. They could hardly wait until next year when they would return to the beach at Rimini. How they hoped to go on his yacht again and have another magical experience. It was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to them.

As for Carole, she was done…done with Cosimo and done with The Cosmopolitan…for good. She was going to seek this Jesus that Enzio had told her about and if she went back to Rimini, she would be helping the Salvari brothers rescue those who were on the brink of destruction.

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  James 4:4