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Now there is one

It really hurt, that Christmas, when it hit home, forcefully, that I could not send flowers to my mother.

I had sent them for years at Christmas time, something to brighten up the house.

Christmas Table DecorationBut that Christmas, Christmas 1999, if flowers were delivered to my mother, they would be with a grave cover.

We had lost her, in April of that year, to the cancers that plague those in my mother’s family who smoked or drank or smoked and drank.

And it hurt, approaching that Christmas season, when the reminders came in from the online florist I used.

So I decided to do something about it.

I decided to send flowers to the women in my family who had been important to my mother.

I sent them, that Christmas of 1999, to her sisters: my aunt Cladyne, my aunt Carol, my aunt Marianne, my aunt Trisha.

I sent them to two of my cousins: my oldest cousin Bobette, who’d always said my mother was her “other mother” and who’d cared for her so deeply; and to my cousin Susan, who had gone out of her way to make sure I could spend time with my mother in the very last days of her life.

Sending those flowers helped me feel a little better about that Christmas, that year, fifteen years ago.

And so I kept sending the flowers, year after year.

In 2000.

In 2001.

In 2002.

In 2003.

In 2004, 2005, 2006.

But one fewer arrangement was delivered in 2007. We lost Marianne in September of that year, another victim of tobacco.

And one fewer was delivered in 2009. We lost Cladyne in November of that year.

And one fewer was delivered in 2011. We lost Bobette in August, yet another tobacco victim.

And one fewer was delivered in 2012. We lost Carol that October… today would have been her 83rd birthday.

Yesterday I placed the order for 2014.

And one fewer will be delivered this year. Just last month, we lost Susan to a recurrence of the breast cancer we all so hoped she had beaten.

So tell me… is it selfish to want my youngest aunt to outlive me?

To just want to go on sending those flowers every year…?

To have someone left in this world who loved my mother… and who my mother loved…?

Yes, the holidays may be the “happiest time of year.”

But — for so many of us — they are not the easiest.

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