It’s summer now.

Rose Gardener kneels beside the humble, rock-lined grave in the Nimbin village cemetery.

After four years, Rose’s carefully planted offerings are flourishing: a pale pink Begonia shrub, a white butterfly bush (the bees love it), a vibrant, vermilion-red, self-rooting Russelia, with long, slender stems (birds and butterflies love it for its sweet nectar), and a peaches-and-cream grevillia.

All rescued from Karl’s sacred garden.

Under the watchful presence of Blue Knob, Rose leans to dig in one final plant she’s saved and nurtured for months.

Then we notice two visitors. A self-seeded eucalypt from our sheltering tree has also taken root in the dark, volcanic soil, perhaps delivered by that black pied currawong who stood on the grave and sang to us throughout our last visit.

Triny Roe, a loyal friend who lives in Nimbin, has carefully weeded out other uninvited guests.

Behind Rose in the eucalypt’s shade, an ancient black cattle dog silently observes us. Then he ventures forth and gently settles himself on the only bare patch of earth on Karl’s grave.

“My, you’re old, my dear,” whispers Rose.

We blink, and he’s vanished.

“Right, Karl,” announces Rose, standing and addressing the grave.

“You’re our dog-whisperer, after all. That old dog is telling us to remember your virtues. And to value service, generosity, and loyalty.”

It’s silent now in the hillside cemetery.

I sense something new.

Something wild.

It feels like grace.

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About Dr Wendy Sarkissian