Peony. What a strange name for a plant. it seems somewhat irreverent and just plain wrong to name a such a beautiful flower a word that you can easily string out to say pee-o-knee or worse … um, well, you get the image….
This is my first spring in my new home and lo and behold, this week there were 3 such buds on a small bush in my back yard. By Friday, they had transformed into gorgeous lush pink blossoms in full bloom. And the memories came flooding back to this time 3 years ago.
A friend had brought me the most gorgeous bouquet of peonies. She must have cut every single one that her bush had produced, and she gave them to me to brighten my day, creating beauty in sorrow. Mysteriously, those flowers lasted through Warner’s last days and past his funeral. I must have admired them a hundred times over. Funny the things you remember so vividly.
Three years without Warner. 1,095 days. 26,280 hours, 1,576,800 minutes. I cannot count the seconds. There are too many. I can’t wrap my head around such a number.
And yet I am still breathing. I get up every morning. I do the day. Most nights I sleep. The sun rises and sets. The months go by. The seasons pass. Not even one of those seconds I dare not count has stood still or raced ahead or been lost in all this time.
Remembering the anniversary of the death of your beloved is so different from remembering that person’s birthday or anniversary. Those dates come naturally, and with them sweet and dear memories of times shared together, events, joy, celebrations, laughter. Those were traditions, planned and executed with longing, expectation, delight. Even though there is a sadness to them now, there is also a tenderness that comes from thinking back to special moments shared together. Not so with a person’s physical death. It happens once. That day is marked forever as an ending, with each of its moments burned in your brain with irrevocable finality. Done and done. That date on the calendar reminds you of one thing.
Even so, peonies still bloom. I googled the word today to learn a bit more about this flower that I had shunned my whole life just because of its name. I learned that the word peony is “a merger of Middle English, Old English, Old North French, Latin and Greek words, related to paiōnios (healing), from paiōn (physician), and so called for the plant’s healing qualities.”
The peony is known as the flower of “riches and honor. With their lush, full, rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage. The peony is a strong symbol of beauty, fragility and transitory nature of existence. Furthermore, they depict that getting great rewards is only possible by taking great risks.”
Also, peonies rarely bloom the first year after planting. It often takes three years before you see an abundant display of flowers. Peony plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves; they do not respond well to transplanting. But once the plants do start blooming, you can look forward to a lifetime of beautiful flowers. They can live to be ONE HUNDRED years old!”
So, there you have it. I think Warner would be pleased with my peony bush. He had no problem with irreverence if it led you to a righteous goal. We shared years of good fortune and a happy marriage, full of beauty, fragility, the transitory nature of existence and great rewards directly related to the great risks he never feared to lead us through. And that comment about taking three years to abundance… I sure do feel it coming…