I was reading Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel - well, am reading it. In fact, I just set it down, cross-legged on the sofa (it has manners) in the middle of the chapter titled "Rosary." When I read the title, before jumping into the first paragraph both feet in and wanting to see what's next - in a way that I never jumped off the side of a pool (I'm way more confident in my reading comprehension than I am in my swimming) - I thought to myself: I wonder what the origin of "rosary" is, thinking first, of course, of the beads. I just finished reading the answer (no spoilers), and the piece about why roses are a popular flower at funerals made me set down that book so I could write this. The book is waiting (and, boy, was he right - novels are impatient! I'll be back as soon as I can!), but I had to tell the story about Stargazer lilies. Stargazers are in just about every arrangement offered at 1-800-Flowers. They're second only to Gerberas in terms of vase time. They knock you out with their freckles and their fragrance. They're showy and show-offs. Including them in a bereavement arrangement is probably like wearing a red dress to a funeral.
They are the flowers I picked out for my dad's funeral wreath. My sister was tasteful; she went for roses. But not me. When I sat at the florist's table - they provide flowers to funerals for a living - none of the arrangements made sense. Sure, blankets of roses are nice. You have to have those - my sister handled that. But what else? What kind of spray says I Miss You, You're My Best Friend, Why Aren't You Immortal, and This Can't Be Happening? I hate Facebook, but I have to acknowledge that the one good thing it provided was a place where my dad and I could share pictures from the Hubble telescope and those memes where you see the relative sizes of planets to one another, then to our sun, then our sun to other stars, and so on until you get to the biggest star there is (so far), VY Canis Majoris (big dog, indeed). So, I sat there in that chair, at that table, surrounded by pictures of roses and blurted out: "I want stargazer lilies." A big spray, the biggest I could afford with as many stargazers as star stand-ins that I could afford. And on the card I wrote: "We are made of star stuff." Carl Sagan