When Steph’s mom called me on Sunday morning (right after I’d posted that chippy post about sleeping through the night that I’d really wanted to take down, because it then seemed so wildly inappropriate) to tell me that her daughter was dead, she asked me to call all of the old crew and let them know what happened.

One of the guys I called (and one of my best friends) said something that I haven’t been able to shake no matter how hard I try. He said that he only wished that he were surprised.

Because I was surprised. I was shocked.

Last I’d heard from Steph, she’d been going into rehab and had been attempting to turn her life around.

I knew that she hadn’t been doing exactly well in the last couple of years, and that was the reason that all of us had distanced ourselves from her. Alcohol seemed innocuous until she drank it, and when she did, she became a different person. The type who makes you somewhat nervous because you never knew what she’d do next. That sort of volatility is more fun and freeing when you are much younger, and when you deal with it first hand as more of an adult, it makes you somewhat embarrassed.

But, like Kristin, I wanted to believe that she would come around. I wanted to believe that she would eventually see that she was worth something, even without the alcohol, and that she would take steps in that direction.

I knew that there was nothing I could really do for her until she decided to do something for herself. That’s the kicker about addicts: you can watch them spiral downward and you can try to throw them a lifeboat, but it’s completely up to them whether or not they choose to climb aboard. It’s heartbreaking.
But I believed in my heart of hearts that she would come around.

She never did.

She died in her sleep after popping her prescriptions and washing them down with alcohol. I’m choosing to believe that it was accidental (there was nothing to say otherwise), and I’m choosing to believe that she died just as she was gearing up to fight her demons. Her mom told me that she’d been planning to call me this week or next so that we could spend some much-needed catch up over a cup of coffee or thirteen.

God, how I wished she’d called me.

Maybe, just maybe then we wouldn’t be hatching plans to carpool to her funeral together on Friday.

Just maybe I wouldn’t have to spend hours and hours pouring over floral arrangements to send to her parents, because what precisely says “I’m sorry that your daughter is dead. I loved her very much.” Is it the roses? Or the tulips? Or the multitude of hideously arranged flowers with such stupid names as “Forever Yours” or “A Loving Wish?”

I know that if Steph were here with me, she’d totally make fun of the traditional funeral arrangements, calling them tacky and ugly. We’d probably make fun of the names that the flower people came up with because seriously, what a crappy job that must be. I’d have named them something goofy like “To My Concubine” or “It Sucks That You’re Dead,” and not something so drab and ineffectual. I mean, death is sad enough without having to thumb through stupidly named floral arrangements (I am putting it in my will that only beautiful flowers be allowed at my funeral. And absolutely no plastic ones.).

I can’t seem to make a decision about the flowers, though, no matter that I’ve memorized the layout of the page with my scrutiny. I’ve been looking since Sunday, and have gotten no closer to ordering a thing.

What the hell sort of flowers are you supposed to order for someone who isn’t supposed to be dead yet?

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

24 Responses to I Won’t Forget To Put Roses On Your Grave

  • Kristin says:

    We have it covered with the book idea, hon. Flowers are tacky. Pictures and good memories for her kids are probably the best thing we can do. Providing my car is back from the car doctor, I will probably drive out Friday Morning.

  • Kristine says:

    I generally try to give a plant. A live plant. Which in hindsight is something else for the loved ones to have to take care of, so maybe that’s not the best thing either.

    However, in my backyard, I have a plant from my grandfather-in-law’s funeral. We call it the “grandpa plant.” And I do kind of like that we have it as a symbol of having him with us.

  • Heather says:

    Becky, I’m so sorry. I’ve always thought flowers for people who’d died (or their families) was horrible tacky as flowers die and who wants to be reminded of the obvious? No one else seems to agree, though.

    Could you do something in her memory? A donation or participation in an event of some sort?

  • Chris says:

    Funny you should post this; we received some really upsetting news just this morning and I spent the greater part of my morning looking for an out-of-town florist who didn’t have something that wasn’t totally ridiculous. I so feel your flower-hunting pain. (Hint: I ended up looking at the ‘get well’ selection rather than the ‘sorry someone you loved just bit it’ selection.)

    I ended up sending a live Azalea. And a card.

  • Melissa C says:

    Pick something that would have made her smile… it doesn’t have to be a horrible “funeral” arrangement (despite what the florist may say!) Send them something that would remind them of her in better days… have you got a yearbook she signed, or a photo they haven’t seen? Those mean so much more than another flower arrangement. Maybe a letter to each of her kids with some of your memories of their mom? Something they can hold onto when they get older and their own memories become less clear.

    When my first cat died (no comparison I know, but bear with me) I went out and bought a small sculpture that reminded me of him. Years later I still have that sculpture and it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

    If you feel you must do flowers: I despise stargazer lilies… the smell is overwhelming and nauseating. I would want fun and silly and irreverent because that’s who I am. Venus flytrap maybe?

    When my grandfather died, we planted a tree in his name and didn’t buy a single flower (however I still send grandma a small bouquet of wildflowers on the anniversary each year.)

    I don’t know… I don’t think there is a good answer other than find something that would give them some small measure of comfort.

  • Kim says:

    I suggest giving her parents and or her children a gift certificate from a local nursery to purchase a tree and plant it in her honor.

    it always works for me, and “those” trees are so very special to me.

    *much love, big hug*

  • baggage says:

    I am so very sorry. No advice just a lot of love to you.

  • Meg says:

    Becky, I am really sorry about your friend x

  • Karen says:

    You get whatever flowers she would like. When my mom died her best friend got her a carton of cigarettes instead of flowers because they used sneak cigarettes together in high school. (I just realized it was probably excessive to bury my mom with the whole carton – a cigarette or a single pack would have had the same symbolism).

    I am so sorry, again. She was too young and seemed to have too much to live for.

  • Gail says:

    I’m all for having a tree planted for her. That way it keeps on growing, but her parents don’t have to look after it.

    So sorry, Becky. {{{{hugs}}}}

  • Heather says:

    Hi-just stepping out of lurkdom to say I am so sorry about your friend.
    I think the tree idea is a wonderful one.
    I also wanted to suggest that when the busy-ness of the funeral has calmed down, why not take some time and spend with her parents, if they are willing. I am sure a dinner casserole at their house would be much appreciated. Once the everything gets quiet, after the funeral, the silence is completely overwhelming.
    Please don’t feel guilty about being out of touch with your friend. Addiction and mental illness are hard foes to contend with, and tragically, more often than not they will win.

  • Tracy says:

    If I were to give someone who died in these circumstances a symbolic flower, it would be a single lotus, because of the murky conditions they must grow through in order to blossom.

    If I were to give something to a family, especially to children in this circumstance, I would forego flowers and instead give my time to writing down every vibrant, living moment about that person I could muster from my memory.

    Her kids will have a lifetime of reconstructing her image ahead of them, and shaking the conditions of her death will be hard to overcome. The gift you can give of knowing her life, and clues about the “person underneath” the addiction – as you so eloquently put it – is invaluable. If or when you feel up to it, that is.

    Again, I am sorry for your loss.

  • My mom buried my brother 2 1/2 years ago. His death was due to food addiction and the third heart attack we knew/feared was coming.

    It doesn’t matter what flower you give. Every flower, every card will soothe their hearts.

    But the past gift you can give is to never forget her life and them. Stay in touch and give them the gift of being able to share with someone who loved her how much they miss her.

    I am so sorry for loss.

  • kbreints says:

    oh my god I am so sorry. Blood rushed to my face when I read this. It is a terrible thing to happen and I am sorry that you are forced to think what if? Just remember that there was nothing that you could have done. Unless she had been willing to change- and she wasn’t– there was nothing.

    Just pay your respects to her parents and know that there really is no comfort – only time. I am sure that knowing that she had friends who cared is somthing.

    I am so sorry.

  • ewe_are_here says:

    I’m so sorry about your friend.

    Do you have any nice pictures of your friend? I’m sure her parents would love to get copies… with a note from you.

  • janet says:

    I’m so sorry, Becky – please let me know if you need anything.

    I’d go with something more personal or even a donation to a rehab center that she attended/was going to attend. The other idea would be a gift card to a food place that her kids liked – nobody feels like cooking. Or, a homemade meal delivered a little while after the funeral. I’ve been a part of a larger group that put together a donation to a trust/college fund when the parent of a young child dies, but that might be a bigger deal than you want to tackle.

  • Again I am so sorry, that you are going through this.

    These are beautifully poignant posts . . .a tribute to your friend.

  • KT says:

    I’m terribly sorry for everything you are going through.

    I like the idea of a donation in her memory…or a plant that her parents can keep. My MIL’s sister passed and she still has a few plants that she received just afterwards. They remind her of her sister, and I think she likes that.

    Definitely take a casserole over to her husband and kids.

  • Kristen says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss Becky. I will be thinking of you and her other friends and family.

  • SaraS-P says:

    Becky, this can’t be anything close to a manageable time. No, she shouldn’t be dead yet, and the living are the one who feel the sting of that. I am wishing you strength…

  • Emily says:

    In our tradition, you don’t give flowers, which I think is right. For all the reasons you say. When your heart is breaking in two, what good do roses do?

    I am thinking of you.

  • LAS says:

    I am so so sorry about what happened. I don’t know what to say. I understand – because about 15 people that I know from AA have died since I got sober, some suicide, some accidental. It’s just so tragic and heartbreaking and frustrating all at the same time. If there is anything I can do for you, please email me and let me know.

  • Whitney says:

    Bec, ugh. Life. Honest to fucking god. I met you once across a table lit with artificial yellow light and rife with the stress of way too many numbers on a ridiculously long sheet of paper. I don’t know you well and I didn’t know Steph. What I do know is that there is no way to sooth this. I am so, so, sorry that your friend’s life was cut short, that she struggled so much, that her family is in pain and that you are too. I can tell that you loved her much, despite the agony of watching her spin. I am certain that she knew that you loved her, and still do. my love and healing thoughts to you.

  • This I understand, as I thought the very same thing when my son passed.

    I didn’t even know what his favorite colour was.

    But like my son, I am absolutely positive that whatever you chose, your friend would love, because it came from you.

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