I have brought flowers for you. They are not fresh unfurling roses cut from my garden this morning. They are not the tightly curled buds that will open tomorrow. I have brought you those cut last week, the petals browning at the edges and beginning to drop.
I remember helping you clean the church that day, so long ago, when the village women were arranging flowers for the festival, secateurs snipping off leaves and wires twining around stems. They stuck their perfect blooms into a spongy Oasis. How I loved to push my small stubby fingers into those squishy green blocks. Their arrangements were magnificent, but I preferred the jam jars crammed with ox-eye daisies, buttercups, coltsfoot, cow parsley, and columbine that decorated your little cottage.
That day, you rescued the flowers discarded by the women, those they’d deemed unfit for God’s purpose and tossed aside for the bin. You brought them home with us nestled in the large cotton bag that held your dusters and homemade lavender beeswax polish.
You took the flowers and placed some in your one good vase and the rest in empty milk bottles, and stood them among the wildflowers.
“Flowers are like people,” you said. “Some are beautiful, some plain, some imperfect and all eventually wither and die. Some of our dearest little flowers are called weeds. But all are precious and have their place in our world.”
I knew I was a blemished flower, but your words taught me to wear my flawed beauty with pride.
I place my faded, imperfect roses beneath your headstone with the same reverence that the women who are decorating the church today display their opulent perfection.
I gather up and remove last week’s beautiful weeds and give them back to the earth.