Recently, upon learning of a Twilight Zone-like encounter of mine with a homeless person at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant, my daughter commented, “The most amazing things always seem to happen to you on your walks!” I smiled, preferring instead to think of it this way: I sometimes happen upon things on my walk with an open heart and then the universe intervenes to show me their “amazingness”.
Yesterday was one of those times. For no particular reason (or so I thought at the time), I decided to take a slightly different route back to the apartment on my usual early Saturday morning walk. As I rounded the corner, I saw 6 beautiful, long-stemmed red roses still wrapped in plastic lying intact in the grass near the side of the road. I could only surmise that someone had purchased them the night before, likely to surprise a special friend or mark a special occasion, but at the last minute lost their courage or decided the time just wasn’t right and tossed them out the window of their car instead.
“What a shame,” I thought to myself, imagining how different the intended recipient’s night might have been had they actually been delivered. That’s when it occurred to me. Spotting a woman walking towards me with her dog on the opposite side of the road, I bent down, picked up the bouquet of flowers and crossed the street. As she got a little closer, I said excitedly, “I just found these roses in the grass. I think there’s still life in them – and I think they were meant for you.” I wish the whole world could have seen the smile that broke like a sunrise across her “here I was thinking-this-was-gonna-be-just-another-mundane-Saturday-morning-dog-walk” face!
“I guess I was right. They were meant for her,” I concluded as I continued on my way, slightly taken aback by the warmth of her smile and the depth of her gratitude. But it was the woman who I imagined hadn’t received them the night before – her and the countless number of others like her – that flooded into my heart as I headed for home.
I thought of all the 6 year-old ballerinas, musicians and choralists who diligently keep working on their craft, recital after recital, all the while knowing that the empty seat in the auditorium will never be filled and that when the performances are over they’ll be relegated to the role of spectator as all their friends receive bouquets from their doting dads.
I thought of all the middle school actresses, athletes, writers and students who know that no matter how great their onstage, on field, on paper or in class performances are, none will be acknowledged with even a “job well done” from the man who matters most, let alone something as beautiful and thoughtful as a bouquet of their favorite-colored roses.
I thought of all the self-conscious high schoolers struggling to come to grips with self-doubt, the transition into womanhood, feelings of where they fit in or, more likely, of being left out, who would give anything to be seen and appreciated simply for who they are – and be over the moon if a special someone honored them with even a single rose.
I thought of all the seemingly secure and independent, but silently sensitive collegians trying to navigate a complex and fear-filled new environment far from home, longing for a sign that they belong, that they are welcomed, that someone cares – or that they are remembered and still loved by those they left behind – a bud of hope.
I thought of all the young and not so young women who feel trapped in broken or abusive relationships and those in no relationship at all, and the soothing balm that a gift of flowers might offer their hearts and souls – hearts ravaged by hurtful words or loneliness, souls left questioning their worthiness, loveliness and loveability.
I thought of all the women who continue to seek their truth in a mirrored reflection and how different they and their lives might appear if they were afforded the chance to search for it instead in the reflection pool of a beautiful bouquet of roses offered by a complete stranger for no particular reason other than that they’re alive – and that someone noticed.
Maybe you once were that someone or maybe you’re her today. If so, there’s something I need you to know – several things actually:
The fact that you may not have received flowers (or all they have come to represent) when you needed them most or didn’t receive them at all doesn’t mean you weren’t worthy or deserving of them. You were and you are! It also doesn’t mean that you were or are any less than those who did. You weren’t and you aren’t. If you’d been on the sidewalk with me yesterday, you would’ve realized that. But since you weren’t, these (and the song that follows them) will have to do – at least for now!
Photo Used with permission: D 32854678 © Aliaksei Smalenski | Dreamstime.com