I am Constanza, the famous recluse that no one has met, but everyone knows. Like most women, you’ve read every volume of my Gardenia Dreams. You understand your own life through my writings. I reach out to every woman; I speak for every woman. I have gained great insight over many years of partnership with my beloved husband. I am a recluse and a writer. He is a world traveler and a listener.

Every year, when gardenias are in bloom, he returns home, bringing me your stories – great bouquets of sorrow and radiance, as fragrant and as fleeting as the pure white blossoms filling our garden. The griefs and glories of the women he has met are seasonal, but the women themselves are the strong green stems that live on to bloom again, spring after spring. He tells me of your courage, your resilience, your talent for fulfillment and flowering even in the darkest of seasons.

You may have seen him from time to time. In the back pew at your wedding, smiling at your son’s christening, applauding your daughter’s graduation speech, weeping with the other mourners. He was often the one who congratulated you or comforted you, who listened quietly, the one who left behind one perfect gardenia and a lingering sense of peace.

We were married in a dream of whisper-white fragrance, all those years ago. “This is forever,” he vowed. When he died so soon after the wedding, I thought forever had ended. Instead, it had just begun. No longer bound by physical limitations, he travels and listens. I welcome him home in early June each year, turning his treasured fragments into stories. Your stories. The stories of all of you beautiful women. All of us beautiful women.

I am Constanza. A recluse, a childless widow, and co-author of the eternally fresh, ever blooming Gardenia Dreams.

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    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    2 years ago

    Beautiful, Juma. An eternal love and partnership and I could almost smell the fragrance of gardenias as I read. I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

    2 years ago

    Lovely story, Juma. I love the idea of a spirit wandering the world giving comfort and peace, then returning to his beloved writer wife with “great bouquets of sorrow and radiance”. This story is very beautiful and a wonderful tribute to the resilience of women and the eternal nature of love.

    Last edited 2 years ago by Fuji
    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    2 years ago

    You have done much justice to womanhood with this story, Juma. It is very rich in all its examples of women’s experience, and contains so much emotion and compassion. It’s a great idea to make Constanza (constancy, steadfastness) the teller of the story, and to have her dead husband be her invisible messenger. Great work! My associations go to Marcel Proust, who wrote his masterpiece as a recluse after his mother died,… Read more »

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    I like it, Juma. It is nice to think of that kind of love even though the husband has passed away; she still waits for him to return every June each year. Maybe, Contanza’s husband died in June. Am I right, Juma? And one more thing, I love the Gardenia flower that you say in your story, Juma. I looked for it in google to see if there is such a flower… Read more »

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Juma
    2 years ago

    Yes, Juma. I also love Rosal, and its scent is so incredible that I can’t help but smell it always.

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