Thirteen years and three months ago, my then boyfriend said to me, “let’s get married.” We had already been together for three years but were friends for five years before that. He was my best friend and I already spent every moment I could with him when I wasn’t working… so why not? The thing is, as romantic as my darling Paul was, when he sprung on me that he wanted to get married on Valentine’s Day the following year, he thought I wouldn’t see the ulterior motive for this grand “romantic gesture.” You see, getting married on Valentine’s Day, which happened to fall on a Saturday in 2009, was merely just a way for the mere male in my life to kill three birds with one big, fat, juicy matrimonial stone. Yes, three birds: Valentine’s Day, Wedding Day and it just so happened my birthday was four days away. So you think you can get away with buying me one present for all three celebrations, hey?
I’m a flowers kind of girl. They may not last long but the beauty and scent from a gorgeous bouquet of roses lights up the room, like an exquisite showpiece dedicated to only me yet can be enjoyed by one and all. I love the sweetness of it’s perfume; the kind that you enjoy when you get your nose right up to one of its petals and inhale nature’s heavenly air. I love the romantic gesture of receiving roses not just on Valentine’s Day but any time of year. In the early years of dating Paul, I asked him why he never bought me flowers. He didn’t know why but for the following Valentine’s Day, he bought me two rose plants. Whilst I loved the gesture, the thought of having to take care of plants was a menial long term commitment back then. I just wanted some flowers to light up my heart when I walked into the kitchen over the next few days and then I could happily throw them out when the last petal had dropped onto the bench next to the vase.
But I probably shouldn’t have reacted with “You got me rose plants?” Yes, in that whiny, bratty tone that we use when we receive a gift that we didn’t really want. Naturally he was irritated because I was ungrateful. I should not have complained in that tone of voice but he bought me plants. Mum planted both roses in the back garden for me. One rose plant was a deep shade of pink and the other was a light shade of pink. They were pretty. Their lifespan was cut short due to my listlessness and neglect. As years went by, I got various flowers from him and not just on Valentine’s Day or my birthday. He once sent a beautiful bunch of flowers to my office for no reason. I had to walk to reception to pick them up and walk by every office on the way back holding these beautiful flowers for everyone to see. He did good that day.
This year marks six years since Paul hasn’t been able to buy me flowers. Yes, I could buy my own. Mum’s garden is often blooming with roses from time to time. We are never short on flowers here. Buying my own flowers or having mum cut fresh roses from her garden isn’t the same though. I miss the gesture that can only come from your partner, lover, companion. He went out of his way to get me what I want to make me happy. I miss complaining about the gift he’s bought not because I don’t want it but because I love stirring him up. I miss not knowing if he’ll buy me one gift for all three occasions or if he’ll surprise me with three seperate ones. I miss saying “I don’t want anything for my birthday” even though he knew I expected him to know fully well that he better bring something home (even some burgers sufficed because it meant I didn’t have to cook.)
We got married on Valentine’s Day in 2009. Every year on our anniversary since Paul’s accident in 2016 that left him a non- verbal quadraplaegic with a TBI, I am reminded of what a blessing and gift it is that I have him in my life. It was never about the flowers or the gifts. It was knowing that he cared enough to make me happy. This year I will take Pauly for a drive down to the beach for our week of celebrations, go for a long walk and remind him of some of the best and worst gifts he has given me over the years (hello $700 Wii gaming console that we played into the early hours of the morning before kids came along!) I’m learning not to take for granted the important things in life.
Three blinks, Pauly (I love you)
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