I helped pick out a bouquet of flowers today.
As a single, random act in and of itself, buying flowers really isn’t all that hard. “Ooh, look, these are so pretty,” we said, and grabbed an armful of three different types. As the lady took apart the bunches of flowers and skillfully re-did them as one large bouquet, I idly wondered just how scandalized my gardening-obsessed father would be if he knew I couldn’t, for the life of me, name those flowers without their identifying tags. We remembered we needed a card, too, so we wandered over to the back of the store and stared in bewilderment at the choices available, flipping them open and reading them aloud, then impatiently shoving them back in the stacks. “What about this one?”…“Here’s one I like.”…“What do you think of this?”…“Nah…” Finally, we just grabbed the simplest and plainest card in the aisle, and ran.
We agonized over the message itself, muttering to one other, “I don’t know what to write!”, the pen changing hands as we stood in the parking lot, the car’s trunk a smooth writing surface for the card we stared at blankly.
We drove fast on freeways still drying from the morning’s rain, the roads / mountains / bridges / water passing by our windows in a blur, four close friends in a three-car-caravan, leaving behind us abandoned classes and cancelled appointments. Alone within my car, a sheet of lined paper with hastily scrawled directions lying across my lap, I glanced repeatedly at the bouquet resting on the seat next to me and wondered whether we had bought the right flowers, whether we had written the right words, whether mere flowers and words were enough. What should have been a 75-minute drive under normal conditions was compounded by some more rain, a little bit of hail, and the fact that we got lost once, too.
But none of that was the hard part.
The hard part was meeting her gaze levelly as she entered the room - was hugging her tight and whispering, “I’m so sorry about your mother” - was seeing her look so calm and collected when I can’t even begin to fathom the magnitude of the pain I know she feels inside. Later, I drove home with the beginnings of a headache, and alleviated it a bit by listening to the Burda, the moonroof tilted upward to let in cold air even though it was drizzling outside. Watching the miles of cars ahead of me crawl through rush-hour traffic, I thought of my mother and father and brother and sister, and how she has none of those now.
For the love of God, go let your mother know how important she is to you.
Labels: Loss and laments and letting go