I seem to have lost a day somewhere, due to how difficult sleep has been and my days stretching out into thirty or more hour segments.
What I think of as “yesterday,” but was actually Friday, we walked for a little while in a beautiful garden. It reminded me of English gardens, the sort with tall hedges and fountains and areas of grass. Except the hedges were made of flowers, many different kinds of flowers, growing and woven together.
I stopped to look at one that reminded me of a daffodil. It was more graceful, with long petals curling gently around a smaller trumpet. He said, “Pick it, if you like.”
“But I have no nails,” I protested. “I’ll hurt the plant too much.”
“Here.” He reached past me, mildly amused that I worry so much about plants that I won’t even pick flowers, and plucked it himself, putting it behind my ear.
I retrieved it and looked at it. The bottom of the stem was closed. I looked up at him in confusion and he moved some of the vines, showing me the same thing on the original stalk. “The [word for the type of flower it was] is fine. And that will not wither, so long as you wish to keep it.”
“But how did you–”
“Plants. Harvests,” he said blandly, with an expansive gesture.
He was teasing me. Without hurting me. That is a very rare occurrence in my life coming from anyone but Brand.
“You know that a rose will not bloom well unless it is pruned regularly, and that old flowers should be removed from plants you wish to keep blooming, and any flowers at all should be removed from a plant that you wish to expend its energy on growing rather than flowering,” he continued, in his ordinary tone of voice.
“And there are many plants that should be shaped, lest they grow spindly and unwieldy.”
He threaded his arm through mine. “Some people make an art out of that all on its own. A third of an herb or plant can be removed or harvested without damaging the plant; it will keep growing. You needn’t worry about a single flower, Shannon. Particularly when you pick it with care and reverence for the plant and what has made it grow and produce something so beautiful.”
“I just like flowers to stay on plants, because they don’t die in a vase,” I said, still looking down at the flower, and feeling silly. People have always found this stance ridiculous. “They’re still beautiful on the plants, even if I don’t have them indoors to look at all of the time.”
After looking at me for a long time, he quietly said, “You are very kind. Even to things to which few people are kind, few people notice, few think of.”
“They’re alive. They’re real. Just as real as anyone. Being human, or whatever, doesn’t make someone better than anything else that is alive. Only different.”
He drew me close, kissed my forehead, and held me very tenderly. “And you wonder all the time why I love you so. Please keep the flower. May it remind you of this.”
“I will.” I leaned against him, tired suddenly, from the weight of carrying that around with me for so long.