Flowers and Shirts

*I wrote these words last week. I disposed of the flower arrangement today after plucking the already-dried roses and carnations from it. It was time.*

The flowers are wilting as I type. Limp rose heads lean down from their stems having given up the fight a couple days ago. Petals from the daisies are starting to fall. My cat has chewed the ornamental grasses until there’s no flavor left. Even the carnations, those hearty, happy flowers, are looking downcast.

I have the best intentions of drying the flowers, of clearing the basket sitting under the TV or on the table, wherever it’s most convenient at the moment. Once the flowers are dried, I can crush the petals and mix them into polymer clay and make beads. What I’ll do with the beads is anyone’s guess, but I like the idea of making beads more than I like the idea of just throwing the flowers away.

Everyone here is being patient with me. I know the ugliness, the disarray of the dying flowers annoys them. Heck, it annoys me. But I can’t bring myself to do anything about it yet. I don’t even want to touch them, rearrange the vibrant ones into a smaller, prettier bouquet and separate out the long-gone ones for drying. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a few hours. But not yet.

I packed up some of your belongings a couple days ago——the cardinal decor, the hats which still smell like you, photos I’d brought out and cried over, your sweater vest. I unpacked the shirts Mom gave me for Brian, intending to wash them. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They sit untouched except to be inhaled in moments when missing you stabs me in the gut. I was moving too fast, pretending for the sake of eyes tired of spilling tears nothing had happened. So I unpacked some of the items I’d just tucked away and cried and railed and journaled and typed and watched you on a rare video and treated my heart, my grief with gentler hands.

You are more present in my daily goings-on in your absence than you were when you were alive. This feels like a betrayal of sorts, a condemnation of how we related to each other in this plane of existence. Accusatory whispers flit about in my head. I do my best to pay them no mind. I know you knew I loved you. I know I showed you my love. But still. Not enough, never enough, they whisper. Perhaps the ghosts of inadequacy which haunted you throughout your too-brief life have moved on to me, clinging to the breathing lungs, the beating heart grasping your hand in the moments after the official declaration of death. Oddly enough, I welcome them. Anything which brings me closer to you is embraced wholeheartedly, even doubt.

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