It was my third week back at work after my husband’s passing. Still early in my path of grieving, the okay days were the ones spent staying one step ahead of the tears in want of falling at any given moment. The better days were the ones I got through simply by rote. This particular day was a cross between the two and only I knew why. Thus, it was something of a surprise when early in the afternoon a flower delivery guy stops at my desk. My mind was understandably elsewhere and it took a moment for it even register that the flowers were for me.
I remember being perturbed as I signed for them. I was thinking who in their right mind would send me condolence flowers, at work, a solid month after the fact. I mean what else could they be? And why today of all days? I open the box to reveal two dozen red roses in a silver vase. They were lovely and smelled heavenly. After getting fresh water and arranging them, I finally read the card that came with it.
Because you thought I never would –Posslq
I loved my husband dearly, but it was a running point of contention/running joke between us on how he was not a flowers giving kind of guy. The compromise being that I received flowers on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day; that was it. And that was the way it remained. Still, in our nearly twenty years together, never had he sent flowers to work for any reason, until that day.
The signature “Posslq” -pronounced “poss-el-que”- stood for People of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. It was something we got from the late Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes” fame, where in his not quite jokingly curmudgeon way stated the IRS should add POSSLQ to the Married/Single/Head of Household options on the annual tax forms, to reflect couples who live together, but are not married. We had turned it into a silly term of endearment for each other, which we had stopped using, quite correctly, once we married. It is the only reason I knew they were from him, as no one else would have known we called each other that. I then knew why they arrived on that specific day – it was our wedding anniversary.
I learned later on in the day, after a few phone calls, that he made the arrangements for the flowers the Friday before he died. The guy at the florist shop remembered him and how he was making jokes about messing with his wife (me), on a random whim. None of which was surprising at all to those who have had the pleasure/torture of knowing my late-husband. But at that moment the incredulous reality of it set in and I burst into laughter.
I had not laughed that hard, that sincerely, since before my husband passed. One of my co-workers popped his head over the low barrier of out joined cubicles. He was smiling, happy to see me laughing and wanted to know what was so funny, so I told him. “My dead husband just sent me flowers for our anniversary.” Suffice it to say, that wiped the smile from his face, which made me laugh even more. I explained it to him and then he understood. Granted it took some convincing before he would believe that I really was all right; that my laughter was not from hysteria and I was not about to lose all it in the middle of the office floor.
My husband was the reason I lost my laughter. It made perfect sense to me he was the reason I got it back. Surprisingly, and yet not, I really was okay with it. Now, seven years after his passing, there’s always a twinge of the bittersweet in my smile when I use that vase.