“This, to me, represents love.” I held up a dozen cut roses. They had been Valerie’s favorite kind. Yellow in the middle, with red along the edges. I will never forget the day she left. She didn’t say where she was going. She just left a note, explaining she was leaving to find herself.
“Roses?” Helen laughed. “The ancient symbol of love, and beauty.” She looked at the roses. “And they are beautiful.”
Helen was a good friend. I sometimes dreamed of falling for her. But it was always just a dream. I knew it couldn’t happen. She was my friend. And love? Well. All I had to do was remember Valerie.
And remembering Valerie always caused me to hear Dan McCafferty’s voice, screaming in my mind.
Not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain,
Take a lot of pain.”
I knew I’d never fall in love again. I knew I’d never survive that kind of pain again. I could still see holes in my heart where pieces had been. Pieces gone since Valerie left.
“You think they’re beautiful?” I had to ask.
“Yes,” she smiled, and grabbed my hand, slipping her fingers between mine. “But, fleeting.”
“They’re cut. They’re pretty enough now. But in a few days, they’re whither. Their petals will turn brown, and black, and fall off. And they’ll become slimy where they’re in the water in the vase.” She squeezed my hand. It felt good. I squeezed back, enjoying the simple physical contact. Just being able to touch her. Feel her hand in mine. I always found my smile when we held hands.
“Yep. Just like love.”
She frowned, but didn’t let go of my hand. “I know. You’re still wounded from her.”
I had to stare at the roses. I couldn’t look at Helen. Not right then. I couldn’t let her see the parts of me missing. I couldn’t.
I was too afraid. Afraid of what she’d see. Afraid of what I’d feel. Afraid of how I felt about her. Afraid of so many things.
“It’s OK. The roses always grow back.” She smiled again. “Every year, they bloom again.” She put her hand under my chin, and gently lifted it up, looking into my eyes. “Just like love blooms again.”
I handed her the roses. “For you.” I whispered those words.
She squeezed my hand again. “I love them.” She smiled. “And I’m not going anywhere.” She kept looking into my eyes. “I’ve got plenty of time. I intend to wait for spring, when love blooms again.” She let me look away, but kept holding my hand.
“I’ll wait for the roses to bloom again.”