I knew it was perfect when I saw it — a tiny floral arrangement made with leftover material from a pumpkin design project.
I couldn’t tell the garden club member why I needed the little design she put together to use as a decoration on the night of the holiday fundraiser. It would have been jarring to say it on such a happy night.
But the next day I took the pumpkin to a gravesite, a place I have visited with flowers a half a dozen times since September, when only a couple of weeks into the new college year one of my son’s best childhood friends died in a horrific car accident in South Carolina.
I was hundreds of miles away helping an elderly parent when the funeral was held. Their hearts broken, his many friends, including my son, came in waves from all over the country to attend. So after arriving back home, I have been compelled to visit the grave to replace the old flowers with fresh ones I place in little holders I put there.
I needed the tiny pumpkin arrangement because the boy would have been 19 on the day of the garden club program. I didn’t want to go on the actual birthday, I knew the family would be there. I had no idea what to bring since the flowers from my yard were all played out by the end of November.
Someone had left a tiny pumpkin at the grave at Halloween, so I was thinking that was the way to go. The arrangement I selected was small and not showy. It wasn’t “girly,” if that makes sense.
When I go to the grave I don’t hear the deep man’s voice the boy developed as he grew up. I also don’t hear his mother calling to say, “I lost my beautiful boy.”
I see him bounding up the steps, golden hair tousled, flying through the door of my house. I hear him saying hello, and telling me, the only one in that group of boys to do so, “Miss Carole, your flowers are very nice.”
So I drive to the gravesite, and walk through the quiet cemetery. I pause at the grave at the foot of a cedar tree and take old flowers from the vase. I pour in water from a plastic bottle and make my offering.
The tiny birthday pumpkin arrangement wasn’t something I made, but it was put together with love, by the mother of boys and that’s what counts. I try not to cry because he wouldn’t like that. “Hey B., it’s Miss Carole,” I always say. “I brought you some nice flowers today.”