Having had a paucity of writing ideas lately, I consulted my twitter feed today for topics. Having no desire at the moment to write about politics, terrorism, work, or entertainment, I found something else. My inner cynic has awakened.
In what must have been considered a romantic gesture, a fifty-three year-old man who died from a brain tumor last year arranged for Valentine’s Day flowers to be sent to his wife – every year until she, too, dies. I am sorry for this woman’s loss, and I hope her grief is lessened by her husband’s unexpected gift. I truly mean no disrespect to him.
However, according to the AP news story, the Valentine’s Day flower surprise is compared to “the true love of fairy tales.” Seriously? Perhaps I do not comprehend the nature of either true love or fairy tales, but flowers for the rest of my life from a husband I buried would not qualify as either. In fairy tales, nobody ever dies – or if they do, their “true love” brings them back to life with a kiss. In this case, the deceased is haunting his wife with Valentine’s flowers, and his dying gift of love may ease her grief now, but in a few years, it may only complicate it.
Flowers on Valentine’s Day from a deceased husband may assuage a grieving widow’s loss the first year; however, receiving flowers each year for possibly 30 or 40 years becomes creepy, not a fairy tale. I don’t believe in the power of fairy tale love. I learned a long time ago that Prince Charming is just a guy wearing a decent suit for the moment. Prince Charming doesn’t exist, and if he did, he would know better than to drag out my grief by sending me a reminder of our “true love” every Valentine’s Day.
In a few years, she might realize just how much her dearly departed husband spent on those flowers, and while the flowers may be a tender reminder his undying love, it also reminds her that he could have invested that money in a certificate of deposit. How much does is cost to arrange for a $60 bouquet delivery once a year for 30 or 40 years? The interest on that expense could provide a tidy supplement during retirement, presuming that his widow is now about 50 and she lives to be 80 or 90.
I’d rather have a flower garden to remind me of having tended that garden with the man I loved each spring than receive a flower arrangement to remind me that I am bereft of his love every Valentine’s Day.
In another few years, this widow might meet a kind and wonderful man and begin dating one future August. After nearly six months in this relationship, the first Valentine’s Day conversation might sound like this:
“Did your son send you this beautiful bouquet?”
“No, before he died my beloved husband arranged for flowers to be sent every Valentine’s Day. Each year reminds me of his devotion. He had the florist include Calla Lilies in each bouquet to remind me of our first date.”
“I see. Every year, huh? You must have had a special love with him.”
“I did. Every year he would send me a bouquet with at least one Calla Lily. He was such a romantic – even in death he is romantic.”
By March, this new relationship will likely end. From the grave, her late husband has impeded any future romance she may have experienced.
Yes, my scenarios bleed cynicism, and I’m good with that. Not that I’m at risk of getting flowers from a lover anytime soon – dead or alive. When I want flowers, I buy an arrangement or I get a cutting from my rose bushes in the summer. Receiving flowers as a commemoration of love on Valentine’s Day reflects a consumerism mentality about the holiday, and if I were in a relationship, I’d rather have flowers sent on an ordinary day. Everyone sends flowers on Valentine’s Day, which, to me, cheapens the sentiment anyway. If everyone does the same thing, what makes it special, what is unique about it? I’m not much of a “fairy tale romantic.” I don’t believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy either. I do believe in love, and I believe that love is best expressed by the living, not the dead.
Romantic love is as unique as the couple who experiences it. Love, in its best representation, eases suffering, it doesn’t invite more suffering. Love can’t be duplicated, and it won’t last beyond the grave. Fairy tales never do come true, and flowers from the dead might be a sweet reminder of love one time, but afterward annual flowers from the dead can only extend suffering and complicate bereavement.