It had only been two months since Mark died. Two months. That’s it. And it’s hard to tell, looking back, if they felt long or short. Fast or slow. They felt like hell, really. That’s what they felt like. But either way, it was February. Just about Valentine’s Day to be exact, and time was moving on. Like it or not.
My mother- my poor, dear sweet mother who was so faithfully enduring my young widowhood with me- had gone to the grocery store while I sat at my usual station at the kitchen table: Cold cup of coffee in front of me, staring blankly out the window while my 18-month old baby girl toddled around me.
My mom arrived home a short time later with a simple bouquet of flowers in her hand. There was an employee at the store with whom she chatted week after week and it had only been a matter of time before she eventually ended up telling him about me and the loss of my 26 year-old husband in a car accident. The way all of our lives had been turned upside down and inside out and everything it meant now. And so this man at the store had handed my mother a bouquet of flowers with a simple directive: “Tell your daughter people care about her and are thinking of her.”
I cried, of course. When was I not crying? Did people really care? Were they really thinking of me? But those tears held something new inside them, too. It wasn’t all sadness and despair. There was a teeny tiny drop of hope. Of gratitude. Of feeling loved and seen even when I wanted to disappear.
All these years later, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been lucky enough to get a beautiful bouquet of flowers. But it’s that simple one from a stranger I remember most.