“What is taking her so long?”
I felt impatience from the soles of my feet to the middle of my belly. “How long does it take to take three bouquets of flowers and make two bouquets of flowers?”
I marched myself to the workroom doorway so I could perhaps get a clue of the holdup. I imagined the clerk on the telephone or chatting with another clerk or maybe working on something besides my flowers.
I sighed a heavy, woe is me sigh and the frown I wore caused a deep wrinkle between my eyes as I glared through the door into the arranging room.
There the clerk was, carefully and consciously arranging the flowers I had given her. She wasn’t hurrying, she wasn’t engaging in anything in that moment except to take the flowers I had given her and making the most beautiful floral design possible. She was holding the lilies, carnations and the single iris with such devotion my complaints dripped off my feet and became tears in my eyes.
“She could be arranging flowers for a wedding. For her wedding, my daughter’s wedding.” My eyes burned with tears of shame, love and surrender. In the next inhale, I finally felt an aligned emotion, one that fit.
I was at the floral shop at Forest Lawn Cemetery, where my firstborn daughter was buried twenty-five years ago after she died at birth.
The woman arranging the flowers wanted these bouquets to be just right. She didn’t know they were for my daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday and simultaneously the anniversary of her death.
She didn’t realize the emotional jolt I felt simply witnessing her artistic and loving care. She was simply being herself, giving the gift of thoughtfulness as she did her job.
She wasn’t taking too long, I was no longer in such a hurry, and I could snuggle into this brief moment of unexpected sacred joy. My daughter, Emma, came to stand beside me.
“She is taking such care with the flowers,” I said, my chin quivering; my voice cracking.
Seventeen-year-old Emma nodded, understanding and compassionate even though she never knew her older almost mythical-to-her-siblings-sister, Marlena.
I remember the words of one of my favorite writers, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, when she wrote “Flowers always have it — poise, completion, fulfillment, perfection . . .”
We took the bouquets and placed them beside the graves of my daughter, Marlena, and the baby buried beside her, Emilio, another tradition.
This time, though, the experience was new: different, reborn.
It wasn’t that the February weather in Los Angeles was perfect or that Emma was the just-right age to be with me or that my friend, Sofi, was selflessly sharing herself with us.
It was the gift of presence from the florist clerk that reminded me how sacred this moment was, even so many years later. In those moments I was reminded of the value of my daughter’s life in the past, present and future.
Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming Winter and Spring 2015 and beyond.
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