It was the middle of March, and the subtropical heat and humidity had moved back to St. Petersburg. The night before I had lit a scented candle to remember a friend. The next evening, I had walked across the old brick alleyways down to The Moon, not to share a Guinness, but to have quietly existed with other human-souls that had the same questions I had, and like me, they had lacked the answers.
“I can’t help but notice,” I said. As I smelled the distinct fragrance. “Your holding white lilies, they are quite beautiful.”
“Thank you, it’s the same type vase I use,” she said. She had set the vase in front of her, and next to a glass of red wine. “The originals in her room, I buy the same vases, they’re common, and yet special.”
“I’m, Rob,” I said. I had not sipped my Guinness, but it was set quietly in front of me.
“Oh, Angela,” Angela she said. She glanced over at me, she was a dark haired, brown-eyed petite older woman; she had worn all black. “I picked them, last, I grow these white lilies.”
Kate had moved over near us, she had gently admired the simple bouquet.
“You doing okay, hun,” Kate said. She glossed her hand across the bar, and on over toward Angela.
Angela had nodded back; she sat with her hands in her lap.
“As the saying,” I said. “You have a green thumb.”
“Thank you,” Angela said. She sighed. “They’re for my girl, Mary.”
And it was the soft cadence from her voice, the dark dress, and the symbolism for white lilies that I had understood that her girl, Mary now lived forever in her memories.
“Rest in peace, Mary,” I said. I looked over at the lilies.
“She was my baby,” Angela said.
“Perhaps there’s some divine force, beyond us,” I said. I pushed the Guinness away from me. “I had lit a candle for a friend, last night, her name was Ember. But it’s not the same as a child, I can’t imagine.”
Angela shrugged, she sighed.
“I come over, alone,” Angela said. “This time of year.”
“What was Mary like?” I said.
“She had beautiful, flowing brown hair,” Angela said. She stared up at The Moon’s cycling ceiling fans. “She had a smile that would light up a room. But, she was shy about it. She had kind doe like brown eyes.”
“I’m not a parent, I cannot imagine,” I said. “It sounds like she looked a bit like, Ember, she got drunk, argument, it was an accident. But, she was an employee, a friend, not my child.”
Angela nodded back over at me.
“Spring break,” Angela said. She pursed her lips. “Drank to much, you never think you’re the one that gets the police at your front door, but it was us.”
We set quietly within the bar area as people had come and gone from the The Moon.
“I wish I had the words,” I said. “But I don’t, I guess the lilies, in some way, help?”
“They do,” Angela said. “It focuses me, to speak out, to not let her memory disappear without purpose.”
“I think that’s all you can do,” I said. I nodded at Angela.
Angela turned toward me.
“I take the same route, every year,” Angela said. “I stop at her favorite places, she loved those two Banyan trees out there, she was fascinated with them.”
“I love them,” I said. I turned to look out the windows at them. “Funny, I have a little mockingbird friend that resides over there, somewhere up in the limbs.”
Angela smiled over at me. She dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex.
“Mary was my happy mockingbird,” Angela said. She pointed out at the children playing near the trees. “I gave a mother some lilies, I think she was surprised.”
“That’s kind,” I said.
“It’s not about being kind,” Angela said. “It’s with purpose, I don’t waste the white lilies, I grow them for a reason.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t understand.”
Angela stood up, she brushed off her dress. She carefully inspected through the tall windows the outside, she had pointed forward with her hand at a young woman with a stroller standing beneath the Banyan trees.
“Her,” Angela said.
“I see,” I said.
“She’s holding the lilies,” Angela said. “Look at her, they made her happy, she feels special today. Mary would have wanted that, to not waste the lilies.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said. I watched the young lady gently grasping the modest bouquet as she watched her children play.
“Thank you,” Angela said. She turned, and she sat back down on the cushioned chair. “As long as I’m able, I’ll take this trip every year, and share the white lilies.”
“Need anything,” Kate said. She looked at Angela and over at me.
“I’m fine,” Angela said.
“As well,” I said. I sat down. “I guess you slowly share this bouquet?”
“I have others that I’ve already given away,” Angela said. “I’m a bit early, so I didn’t want these to wilt in my car.”
“Don’t usually stop here?” I said. “At The Moon.”
“Mary loved The Moon,” Angela said. “I thought I’d pop in, she loved the fish and chips.”
“I love the fish and chips,” I said.
“My next stop is the Don Cesar,” Angela said.
“Mary had good taste,” I said. “Nice place.”
Angela sat quiet, and reflective.
“Yes, she did, we had stayed there, she loved to play in the sand,” Angela said. “We scattered her ashes out there, in the Gulf, behind the Don Cesar, so that’s always my last stop.”
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
“I’ll go soon,” Angela said. “I’ll go find a young girl, or a mother, or, someone I just feel called to touch, and I’ll give them these lilies.”
“Mary must have been a kind soul,” I said.
“She was, and I wait until the evening,” Angela said. “When it’s dark, I’ll walk out into the Gulf, I’ll whisper a prayer, and I’ll know she’s out there, with me in the waves, and the surf, touching me the best she can.”
Angela stood up, and she had opened her purse.
“I got this,” I said. I waved her to close it.
Angela smiled, she carefully removed a white lily.
“This is for you,” Angela said. “Always lite that candle to remember your friend.”
“I will,” I said. I held the delicate flower in my fingers. “And I’ll always remember you, and Mary.”