Flowers can not alleviate pain and grief, but they show the recipient that there are people who care about them, who are thinking of them and want to make a kind gesture when life is being very unkind.
When, a bit more than two years ago, my husband died completely out of the blue a few days after his 41st birthday, my mother-in-law sent me very beautiful flowers. They lasted for a long time and reminded me of her kindness every time I looked at them.
Last night, while I was in the car with my colleague, driving home after a day working at a fair, a text message from one of my sisters-in-law came through: Paul, Steve's older brother, was found dead in his home. By the looks of it, he slipped in the bath and banged his head. He was 53 or 54.
Now Mary has lost two of her four children. Only her two daughters remain, my sisters-in-law who I like very much. I have never met my father-in-law; he died before turning 50, when Steve was 12 years old. Looks like the men in this family are not getting old... But each time, the causes were very different: Mary's husband died of Legionaire's Desease; Steve died because his heart simply stopped beating with no former heart problems known, and Paul... I do not know all the details yet, but from what Angela wrote in last night's message, it did not come as a surprise but still was a shock. The reason why it did not come as a surprise is that Paul was an alcoholic*, and when I saw him last, he looked like a very old man, bony knees and shaking hands, his face deeply lined, although he was only in his mid-forties then.
Jack, Paul's son, has turned 18 a week or so ago. When he was about ten, things with his dad became so bad he did not want to spend weekends there for a while (he lives with his mother after they were divorced). While Paul (from what we know) never hurt his son, he could not bear to be near him when he was drinking. It must have been very scary sometimes, and apparently, he once asked his mum whether he could say something at his dad's funeral when he'd die. My hope is that Jack will never take the direction his father took.
I can not begin to imagine how Mary must be feeling. Earlier this afternoon, I had flowers sent to her through an internet florist's, wanting to do something for her as she did for me two years ago.
The picture is one I nicked from the florist's website; this is what the flowers are supposed to look like.
*and so was Steve, but he was what is called a binge alcoholic; sometimes he would go without for half a year or even longer, and then he'd spend a whole weekend drinking until he'd pass out on the settee. During the last few years of his life, he had his ups and downs, but he was getting better at fighting the battle, and for months before his death he had not had a single drop.