Give Me My Flowers

Even when it rains, some people still get flowers. Just the other day, Martin’s granddaughter dropped by and gave him a bouquet of lilacs. It was nearly hailing out there, and it wasn’t even Flower Day, but there she was. It made Martin the happiest man in the world, and the rest of us mighty jealous.

Some of my other neighbors aren’t so lucky. Ms. DeVito’s been waiting for years now, or so it seems. She’s kept the same arrangement that she received all that time ago, but they’ve wilted beyond recognition. Poor lady. On the other hand, Peter what’s-his-face left us for good after his eldest son brought him some flowers, so there’s that too, I suppose.

If nothing else, flower deliveries break up the day. I can only listen to Martin and Ms. DeVito blabber on for so long. Everybody runs out of things to say, given time. And boy, there’s plenty of time to go around.

If the visitors and their flowers are the best part of the day, the worst has to be the new arrivals. It’s crowded as is, even if some people eventually leave. We have a strange system here, I admit. New people arrive at all hours and the old vets, like myself, could really just stay here forever, if we so choose.

That’s not even really a problem though, if I’m being honest. The real problem is the state in which the newbies arrive. Some are so disoriented; it takes years for them to finally calm down enough to interact at all. I guess that makes sense though, considering…

I’m starting to worry I’m the new Ms. DeVito. Haven’t had any visitors or flowers delivered in months. Probably shouldn’t overreact though, just have to be patient. In the back of my mind, however, the option of leaving is growing more appealing.

If I left, I’d no longer have to wait for visitors here. I’d be a free man, so to speak. I mean, plenty of people leave. Some leave in a couple of minutes. Others take a year, or thirty.

I think it all comes down to courage. If I were more courageous, I’d have left long ago. But the joy I get from my visitors, however infrequent, keeps me waiting. Just seeing my wife, our children, or anyone else who happens to visit re energizes me like you wouldn’t believe. After months like this, though, the thought starts creeping in.

Maybe it’s time to go. The thought always says that. Then we had an argument. I guess I will win though, because I’m still here, aren’t I? The thought is there now again, and I’d really like it to find something better to do. The longer I go without visitors, the louder the thought becomes. I was really thinking it over this time, until Martin called out to me.

“Hey neighbor!” He didn’t say anything else, forcing a response.

“Hey yourself, Martin.”

“Do you know what today is, Matt?”

“Not a clue.” I answered honestly.

“It’s November 7th. Thought you’d like to know.”

“Martin, you’re a life-saver!”

“That’s one way to put it-” Martin trailed off, already busy conversing with another neighbor.

Just one little conversation can change so much. Today’s November 7th. That means in two weeks it’ll be the 21st, the most important Flower Day of them all. I guess I’ll wait around a bit longer.

Tomorrow is just another Flower Day for most people. For me, it’s the biggest Flower Day of the year. Flower Days occur intermittently, every birthday, and anniversary, if applicable. Multiple anniversaries with multiple people too, if applicable. This Flower Day will be a special one. Not only is it that day of the week when most visitors come, it’s also my 45th anniversary with my wife, Anabelle. Such an amazing woman, that Anabelle.

I guess a 45th anniversary is a big one, even if Martin’s got me beat by two years (and he’ll never let me hear the end of it). I try not to let him or anyone else bother me. I’m just here for my wife anyway. And Anabelle would come to visit me even if it were our 45th day anniversary, that’s just the kind of spectacular that she is.

The last couple years, Anabelle has brought something else with her, besides the same-old flowers. A handwritten letter has been magically appearing from her purse. She pulls it out, clears her throat, and then reads it to me aloud. It really is the nicest thing. I’d bet good money that Ms. DeVito boils over with rage as she pretends to not listen to my sweet Anabelle’s letters. The last two letters have been especially inspired, though it pains me to see Anabelle cry. Hopefully she won’t cry this year.

Flower Day is upon us! Anabelle was first through the gates this morning, arriving just after the sun peeked over the horizon. She was wearing a lovely purple sundress and was careful where she stepped in her heels. I knew she’d come, so why did I feel so excited? Some things never change, I guess.

She knelt down and handed over my flowers. The dozen red roses matched her lipstick as she gifted me with a smile. I received them, as if I had any other choice. She made sure they were spaced perfectly apart, fluffing them like a pillow before finally saying hello.

“Happy anniversary dear. How’ve you been?”

“Happy anniversary, Annie. I’ve been, well… you know. And you?”

Anabelle went straight into her little purple purse and pulled out a folded piece of paper.

She cleared her throat, “Dear Matthew, I miss you. I thought this feeling would get easier as time passed, but I was wrong. I miss you more and more each day. You’re always in our thoughts, and I hope you know that.”

Her voice was shaky as her eyes welled with tears.

“Today would’ve been 45 years as a married couple, and 52 years together, if you count the dating years. You know I do.”

She laughed and sniffled before continuing, “I’m sorry I haven’t visited you as much this year. But I want you to know that everyone is doing well. The kids, our grandchildren, everyone is great. But you probably already know that, don’t you? We just celebrated Brian’s 10th birthday; can you believe it?”

She looked away from her paper and muttered, “Am I the only person who comes and reads letters?”

“Of course not honey-” Anabelle cut me off.

“I still talk about you all the time, especially to the little ones. I want them to always remember how magnificent you were. Can’t talk about you too much around Alice though, you know, she cries even more than I do. I wonder where she got that from?”

She wiped tears from both eyes before turning over her piece of paper. Only one page this year? Beggars can’t be choosers.

“I guess there is some bad news. Something I haven’t told anyone yet…” She took a deep breath before powering through the final sentences.

“I’m very sick, Matthew. I have three to six months left, but I’m hoping for seven. Maybe eight, if I’m lucky. I wanted you to know. Not so you’d worry about me, no. But to let you know that I’ll be seeing you soon, and though it makes me sad to leave our lovely family behind, it gives me hope, that there’s something waiting for me- for us, on the other side. Until then, just remember that I love you and if you’re waiting for me, floating around somewhere… stop waiting and I’ll meet you where I meet you.”

Annabelle laid the letter to rest on the ground where I was buried. She kissed where my name had been etched in, in all its faded glory. Then she turned around, brushed off her dress, and left.

So, I got to thinking. Should I be happy about this news? Of course not… does that make me selfish? Another eight months? Can I handle listening to Ms. DeVito’s woes for that long? Will Annie be angry if I do wait?

Perhaps I’ve watched the sun and moon rise and fall sufficiently for one lifetime. Maybe I should just move on now, and get a head start. Figure it all out before Annabelle comes…

Who am I kidding? I could never. It would be silly to waste all this waiting I’ve been doing.

I’ll see my beautiful wife soon enough, and we’ll move on to somewhere else, together.

Culled from by Andrew K Langley

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