My love and I were sitting in the shade by our cabin up at Strawberry Hot Springs, Colorado in August 2010. We had just gotten the news that her cancer had returned and that when we returned from this brief respite, this glance into beauty, she’d have to start a second round of chemo. The doctors assured us we could still stay up here for a week—it wouldn’t matter, they said, in the long run. And we needed our time together. To say what we needed to say.

I’d shared with my love my journal that I’d been keeping now for well over 30 years—since I’d started high school. The journal was in a code—at first it had been a very crude letter substitution, but then, over the years, it had become refined and redefined and now it functioned as a way to say things that could not be said any other way. I now called it the Rose Language, and I’d written out a short primer for my love on how it functioned.

Before I met my love, I had debated on whether or not to share this way of communicating with anyone. But, ways to express ideas can not remain in a single mind—they need to travel to other minds, to share their expressions. So, in the way that close couples have, I did share my Rose language with my love.

But then, we talked up there in the cabin, knowing this would be our last chance to talk to each other before the chemo fogged her brain again, before we faced up to the very good chance that the second chemo would be no more effective than the first, and that her body was too weak to withstand the onslaught. My love wanted me to share the Rose language with more than just her. With the world. “It’s important,” she told me. “Someone may well use this language to change their life.”

She asked me to promise to share this code, this way of shading meanings and perspectives, with all of you. And so I said I would.