Flowers for Her
“We can complain because roses have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” (Pablo Picasso)
A few weeks postpartum, I tried to be superwoman. I tried to brave getting out of the house with my mind fixed on going to Hobby Lobby. My body still ached, I still had physical symptoms of recovery, my brain wasn’t processing properly, and I couldn’t make simple decisions. However, “everything I wanted” was on sale...so this was the time to go, right?
A scrapbook to document the pregnancy and the few pictures we had from the hospital. A shadow box for the roses drying out from the casket spray, which would also hold the bonnet purchased by her godmother that she wore on her burial day. A picture frame for the mantle to place her baby picture next to the baby pictures of her two brothers and two sisters. And the hardest purchase...the fabric flowers for the vase of her mausoleum. It didn’t help that an extremely pregnant woman was also in the floral area. I would soon realize that such a sight would be one of the many triggers to come after experiencing stillbirth. After all, I lost my baby at the end.
Despite the overwhelming surroundings that I had not prepared myself for when becoming mentally fixiated on this shopping trip, I simply could not choose. I knew I wanted pink roses. These were the type of flowers we associated with her. But they had to be perfect. However, how could purchasing flowers to place on your baby’s grave ever be something that would achieve perfection? It just doesn’t make sense. So I kept walking around and around in circles. And I could feel my postpartum body begging me to stop. But I had made up my mind, and I was not walking out of the store until the mission was complete. I never wanted to do this again. We wouldn’t leave until I had the obscene flowers, even if it meant I would bleed, have an anxiety attack, and would fall apart all the way home. And that I did.
The flowers stayed in a bag on the baby bed for a couple of weeks until I felt ready enough to deal with them. Then, I finally arranged them, and on a Sunday (one of the hardest days of the week) we brought them to her grave. And do you know what happened to those flowers esteemed to achieve perfection? They faded. And grew mold. And got placed into the trash this past week.
Recently, we received a very lengthy and detailed booklet in the mail from the church Parish of our little girl’s “resting place,” which outlines the “rules” to be adhered. The flowers must be REAL, not synthetic. Real? So that means I have to go to the grave frequently? And that means I have to endure choosing and buying flowers on a regular basis? I was irate. (HOWEVER, that’s another entry entirely, because that goes back to the question my husband poses frequently—Why are you REALLY mad about this?)
So this past Wednesday, All Saint’s Day, I went to the grocery store to purchase fresh, beautiful, pink roses for her grave. And my postpartum hormones weren’t present. There was no enormously, large pregnant woman in sight. My anxiety didn’t take over me. But I was sad and heavy hearted and on the verge of an emotional break down. A woman glances in my direction. Does she know I am buying flowers for my BABY’S grave?
”Have a great day,” the cashier says. Sure. You too.
When I returned home and arranged her flowers, which WERE so beautiful and so perfect, the pent up tears fell like a rainfall. They washed into my sorrow. They cleansed me in my brokenness. They hit the floor with all the fierce passion and love I feel for my little girl on a daily basis, and they allowed me to enter into the moment. That moment became a holy moment. That moment became a prayer. And I sensed that she felt my deep and intense love and longing.
I trimmed and arranged the flowers with the care I longed to show her. I think that’s why buying flowers is so hard. Shouldn’t I be buying other things for her like diapers and wipes? Shouldn’t I be spending time dressing her, instead of having time to go to the store? There are so many countless ways she would have received my care if she were physically here. And when I placed the vase into the holder of her grave stone, I turned and fidgeted with them until I was satisfied with how they looked. But I will never be satisfied in such an action. Because what’s on the outside of that wall may look beautiful, but what’s on the inside is ugly and unsightly. And I hate it.
There is also the reality that those flowers, although rich with life at the current moment, will die and fall apart—just like she died, and my world fell apart. And the process will repeat itself, just as I struggle to continue the grief cycle each day.
But if all I can buy for her are flowers, then flowers I will buy, and heartache I will endure. For I longed to give her all of me, and all of me she will get...even if it’s in the simple action of buying flowers for her.