Note: Written for the November WCC.
The Secret: A Mostly True Story
I have a confession to make. There's a secret I'm not proud of knowing…it's not my guilt to bear, not exactly.
But some things just eat at you.
They came to the door.
The man in the white shirt and white hat and mostly-white shoes rang the doorbell and his face was lost behind a sea of red.
There were 24, two dozen, and lovely: each one perfectly formed like only a flower shop greenhouse-grown rose can be. Two dozen red roses.
"From a secret admirer?" she asked.
She read the card and I bet she nearly had a heart attack. It whispered sweet nothings in her mind, spoke words of encouragement from beyond the grave.
She couldn't believe it.
"Do you know who sent them?" she asked the very very white man and he checked his delivery sheet with a practiced smile and sweetly said my father's name.
"Impossible!" she said, but tears formed at the edges of her eyes and she smiled at the vase on the table. Sunlight streamed through the windows like God smiling on Jesus. The roses winked at us in the sunshine, trying to convince us of this little miracle.
"Impossible," I echoed, though I wanted to believe.
The deliveryman left with his too-nice smile and we stared at each other, each thinking what didn't need to be said.
He'd been dead for eight months. He couldn't have sent them.
She pulled out a chair and just sat there, breathing them in and staring. She read the card over and over with a smile and a tear on her face. I knew she wanted to believe.
I certainly wanted to.
We called the flower shop.
"The order was placed in March of last year, paid in full."
It's Valentine's Day, the first since he died.
"He just wanted you to know he would be there for you, no matter what. He wanted you to know you're not alone."
Is he really looking out for us?
"I went with him and helped him decide what to say." I don't remember who said it, only that it was said by someone she (we) trusted.
And she finally believed.
Every morning, for weeks, she drank her coffee and smelled the roses and stroked them as though through them she could reach into heaven and caress his face.
And who was to say she couldn't?
"He wanted you to know you're not alone. He's watching over all of you."
I finally believed.
"I want to tell you a secret," Someone said. (I don't have the heart to name names.)
"I really need to tell somebody, but you have to promise not to tell [Mom]." It's eating away…
"I sent those flowers to [Mom]. I really wanted her to believe that [Dad] was looking out for her." My heart broke.
"I set it up with the flower shop and they really liked the idea." That man, with his white shirt and white hat and pasted-on smile? A mere caricature of a messenger angel.
"But anyway, I'm really glad you know now." I'm not.
"It eats at you, having a secret like this." Why did you think I wanted that feeling?
"But you can't tell her, okay? It'd break her heart."