This is entry number 22 (on 2-22-2022, no less!) of my newsletter, A small list of knowable things. As a reminder, if you are reading this entry but haven’t subscribed to the newsletter yet, you can subscribe here — you'll get a new drawing and essay in your inbox every week. Thank you for reading, as always!
I believe that inherent to the beauty of a bouquet of flowers is the knowledge that the flowers will die. The flowers are beautiful, and then shortly after, they will die, and that is something we all know and accept every time we bring a bouquet of flowers into our lives.
Its beauty is in its momentariness. You can only observe it, and how it has arranged all its flowers against each other, for only a moment, and then it is gone. If it lasted forever, it would not be as loved, I think.
And I love that all the flowers in a bouquet die, I truly do. Because in doing so, in promising that they will wilt and drop their petals, what a bouquet really does is create a series of small, promised deaths.
It creates a small grief, but an anticipated — and guaranteed — grief. And because it’s an expected grief, it feels like a healing grief too — to help to process, or hold at bay, the bigger grieving that may come, or that has come already.
Perhaps that’s why there are always flowers at funerals. Because at least we have a general, predictable sense of when the flowers will die, which these days is a kind of a blessing, because where else can we find that sort of stability.
And when a bouquet of flowers slowly dies, it does so generously, because the flowers do not all die at the same time. It lets you hold onto what dies more slowly, giving you smaller and smaller bouquets of what still survives, until there are no flowers left anymore.
And if the flowers didn’t die, then there would be no empty vases to fill with whatever new beauty awaits.
Bouquet of flowers (after one week)