Lilacs for Terry

This time last year, I ordered flowers for David’s Cousin Terry.

I remember it because I called the florist in Seattle and asked if she could do lilacs. The shop was next to the big medical center performing Terry’s latest MOAS. (Mother of All Surgeries, as Terry’s sister dubbed them — a good name since the surgeries were too complex for a simple word like “bypass” or “extraction.” They seemed involve opening Terry up and scraping cancer off every surface they could reach and clipping pieces off of whatever organs were too far gone to clean.) So the florist was helpful, had a listing of patients, but wasn’t sure if she could find lilacs or not.

When she asked me what the card should say, I answered that I’d like it to say “The lilacs are blooming here — come home soon.”

She paused a moment. “I’ll find some lilacs,” she promised me.

I don’t know if she did or not. You don’t expect a thank-you note from someone who’s had her third MOAS. And by Thanksgiving, Terry was gone.

The funeral was Catholic and obnoxious, with the priest talking about how joyful Terry would be to be rejoined with her maker. How all the pain she suffered was for a reason. I wanted to stand up and shout that, no, there was nothing joyful about this. That she died far too young and in conditions no one should have to go through and that her death was a waste of a vivacious and beautiful woman.

But I bowed my head and pretended to pray.

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