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Roses From My Friends Friday, February 8, 2008

Posted by Grace in until the wheels fall off.
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When TM was in the hospital, as happened often, he had a habit of making phone calls while really messed up on whatever drugs he had running in with his IV. His voice would have a smile in it, like he was on the cusp of laughter, even though when he got sick, he tended to get really dangerously sick.

A good portion of what he would say would make very little sense, like how he figured that giraffes were just horses that let their curiosity get the best of them; but still have a line of logic to it, they were the ones who just needed to know what leaves tasted like. He would just find these ideas and get stuck on them.

On one specific phone call I remember quite clearly, he decided to let me in on his plan on roses.

When I die one day, I’ll make sure there are white roses. They’ve always seemed to be the most sincere, so I think they would be the ones who would do it for me.

He was always very upfront and honest about mortality, but didn’t often just come out with it like that. When I die one day…

It says red in the plans, but they’ll be white. They’ll let you know that I’m somewhere out there, and that I’m alright. I’ll do it, I promise. Okay Grace?

At that time, I really had no idea what to say to that. My best friend in the whole world was talking about dying, and promising to have flowers sent so that I’d know he’d be all right. There isn’t really much you can say I don’t think, especially when they are in the midst of a drug induced floatiness. So I told him, “Okay TM, white roses it is.”

And then he proceeded to tell me about how he figured the nurses at this hospital were vampires. As someone who had had a blood test every two weeks for his entire life, he was sure he of all people would know, and because he’d had so much blood taken in the past couple of days it just had to be true.

He babbled on and on in the way that he would, winding in and out of ideas, memories, and stories of things; and I would try to keep up. Through it all, in those phone calls, there tended to be a general message he was trying to get across, but sometimes had issues with because of the automatic verbal fire he was going through.

In the days that followed, he fought through, he got better, and like always, the survivor got to go home. Much more time was spent laughing with the boys, cooking giant batches of spaghetti, getting whispered mixed up messages by a smiling voice from the hospital, and just being us.

At the memorial, the roses were red.

Being in the disbelief I was in, I took it as a sign, if they were red it meant he wasn’t gone. He promised white and he didn’t break promises. In the time that followed, those roses being red were really hard to accept. If they were white it was supposed to mean he was somewhere and he was alright. What was red supposed to mean?

But in the time that’s followed, white roses have found their way into my life. First gave me white roses before he left. My mom decided to plant a rosebush and showed me pictures of the pretty pink blooms it was supposed to have. It must have been mislabeled, because all summer it bloomed white. The eight-year-old boy from down the road caught me picking up the mail today, handed me a package, and asked to be my valentine. When I looked inside, it was a single white rose (his mom runs our town’s flower shop).

In some way, I like to think that that isn’t all coincidence; that it’s him telling me, I’m somewhere out there, I’m alright. Like from somewhere he’s reaching out with those hands like dinner plates, and changing details that you can notice, if you only look.

Song of the Day: Roses from My Friends – Ben Harper



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