Surrounded By Flowers

And it’s not for my funeral!

Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash

I turned 70 the other day. I have no idea where all those years went.

I have been quieter in my life, socially, as the years go by. I don’t really get into having big parties or large scale celebrations, preferring to celebrate these major milestones in my own quiet way. Appreciating the friends that I have and their attention, kindness, and acknowledgment.

This was a big birthday for me. Something about the number 70 feels huge. Different. A senior in everyone’s book. Increasing awareness of the road before me being much shorter than the one behind me. The ticking of the clock of mortality.

The night before this momentous birthday, I was amused to notice that I stayed up until the stroke of midnight, watching the age that I claim now turn to 70. No longer in my 60s. I don’t usually even stay awake for the new year to be welcomed in anymore, but I did stay awake for my own new year’s entrance. My new decade.

The day before my birthday, I went to the gym in the morning. I’ve got to keep moving, I know. I came home to find a huge long box sitting at my front door. Perishable was written on the side.

I opened it to find the most beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers, sent directly from Hawaii. I didn’t even know that this was possible, but there it was. My lovely neighbor, who is from Hawaii and has been there on vacation this past week, sent these to me. She and I are now really getting to know each other, since we are both retired and finally able to slow down enough to have the time and energy. She turned 70 last December. We are on this path together.

What a beautiful gift these flowers were. I arranged them and placed them on display to enjoy.

Later that day. There was a knock on the door. I looked out the peephole to see a young woman holding a beautiful vase of flowers. Opening the door, I was able to really see them, and they took my breath away. 18 long stem roses from my ex-husband. (We were married on the 18th of June, almost 46 years ago.) We have been divorced for almost 34 years. We did not have contact for decades. Then he reached out several years ago and that contact has helped heal the rift and pain and sadness. It’s a lovely connection that I treasure. I am so grateful. And these roses from this, my ex-husband who I now have contact with on special holidays, brought me to tears. The healing of past trauma. The reconnection to a love that still exists, albeit in a different form.

Again, I arranged these stunning roses and placed them on display to enjoy.

And then it was my birthday. Waking up to these flowers greeting me. Waking up to now being 70. Looking forward to having dinner with a friend at a local restaurant where the staff feel like family.

Another knock on the door. Looking again through the peephole, I see a man holding yet another vase of flowers. I open the door to receive another beautiful bouquet of lilies, roses, irises. Purple and pink splendor. From a dear friend, the one that I would go out to dinner with that evening. She and I retired from the same place and are both so grateful for this time in our lives. She also just turned 70 last month. Another of this special tribe that I am now a member of.

I found a place for this bouquet. I breathe in all these gorgeous flowers and the love that they represent.

I am overwhelmed with all this beauty and love surrounding me. I often can underestimate my significance to others, feeling alone in this world. Appreciating friends, but also feeling unattached. No family that I am close to. And yet, I see that I do have a family. Chosen family. Family that is formed out of love and history. Intentional family.

Dinner with my friend was lovely. My birthday was wonderful.

Not done yet. A sweet man who I dated for a while calls and wants to stop by. And he did, showing up with a dozen beautiful red roses. I have no words at this point.

I am stunned, in a way, to feel so noticed and paid attention to. I am humbled by the love and affection and being noticed and remembered. I feel significant to these people. And to other friends that I have contact with on the phone who also send birthday love. More tears come. Tears that don’t always have words.

I cry a lot more these days, and it’s all good. I feel everything even more deeply as I continue on this aging journey. I appreciate it all. I am glad to still be alive to be able to feel all these feelings. To have the tears. To be in the moment and feel the joy, and bittersweetness at times, of being alive.

My birthday has passed. The flowers linger and continue to open more gloriously each day.

And I know that they will wither and die.

Isn’t that the lesson? To appreciate the blooming times, as in our own lives, and savor each moment, each opening of our own petals, each precious taste of love and affection? While we are still here? While we can still breathe and feel and savor?

Before the flowers that are sent are those that are for our funeral.

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