Standing in front of a bank of cards at least a foot taller than I am, I let my eyes bounce around them as if the right one would jump out of the rack and into my buggy. Reality took hold and, I picked the first one that caught me with its comforting colors and pretty script font. Reading the words I was struck by their honesty and the genuine emotion of the writer – these were the words of someone who knew loss.
I rejected it.
It – with another ten or so just like it – made their way back to the spot where I’d found them. Not because they were lacking, rather because they weren’t.
As kind as the words were, they were the ones that should be written by the sender. Written in ink and pained over, by someone who cares and struggles for the right words. “No one”, I thought “wants this shit in a greeting card written entirely by someone who doesn’t know them. I wouldn’t want this card.”
The emotions from thirteen and eleven years ago, respectively, traveled back to me and landed with a thump in the middle of my chest. What would have made me feel better back then? Nothing. A hug. A look. A story of them and the impact they had on others lives, however minimal.
In two corners of my home office are peace lilies. Their genealogy has been with me for over a decade, since their grandparent was sent by coworkers to my fathers funeral. I was thankful then just as I’m thankful now that they didn’t send flowers, which have always just served to remind me of just how temporary life is. I’ve had to send lilies of my own too many times since then, and each time I’m reminded of the thoughtfulness and my own lily who has grown and been divided and shared with friends who were born without green thumbs.
In the end with lilies aside, I settled on a card that said what I needed it to: “With condolences.”