A young man and his new bride started their life together in a small 4 room house. From the first day of their marriage he gave her a flower every day. Sometimes it was a beautiful rose that he had cultivated himself in a flower bed in the front yard, other times it was a wild flower he had found growing in an empty lot on his walk home from work. Even in the winter, he would stop at the flower shop and purchase a single daisy or carnation.
She loved him for the flowers. She kept them in vases, dried them for potpourri, pressed them and framed them for their walls.
As their life became busier and their family, house, and careers grew, he continued to give her a flower every day. When they moved from their small house to a bigger one, and then a larger one still, the flowers continued to fill their rooms and their lives.
She still loved him. But the flowers... sometimes it seemed a chore to find a place for one.
One day, the flowers stopped. The young man, not so young anymore, was now a partner at his company. Between is career, the kids, the house... he just didn't have time to tend that flower bed in the front yard anymore. And he found himself without a flower for his bride.
Instead, he took a small piece of paper and drew a flower and wrote her a simple note. "I love you.".
When she found the note in place of the daily flower, she read it and hugged it to her chest. In many ways, this simple note meant more than a flower. She found a little box to keep it in.
When he saw her reaction to the note, he was thrilled. And now instead of daily flowers, there were daily notes. Always the same hand-drawn flower and the words "I love you." The box was stuffed in no time.
But as time went by, she became passive, even a little cold, toward the little notes. However, unwilling to throw them away, she would drop them in a large decorative urn they kept by the front door as she rushed out to her job or to take the kids to school.
Months passed. Then years. Every day a little note. Every day, without looking at it, she dropped it in the urn.
Unnoticed by the woman, the notes became larger. Soon they took the form of letters in envelopes. But it had become her habit to drop them, unread, into the urn. In it's dark bottom, hidden by the fake plants that hung from the rim, the notes piled up, forgotten.
The man became sick. Very sick. Very quickly he deteriorated and soon was bedridden. The doctors gave him a very short time to live. Still he wrote his notes. But in her busy-ness, devotion to the children and her career, she continued to drop them in the urn. Even when they became rather long and large.
Then he died. She was too busy to spend much time on grief, but she always felt like something was missing. Every day as she rushed out the door, trying to make up for income she and her children had lost in his passing, she stopped, feeling as if something was wrong, that a part of her was missing.
Then she realized. All those years, the flowers, then the notes. She had taken for granted that small thing that was part of her everyday life.
She overturned the urn, crashing it to the floor. Among the broken pieces of pottery were hundred of notes. Some small slips of paper, others letters in envelopes. Some, the newest, seemed to be as large as an entire notebook.
Sitting on the floor, pottery and paper all around her, she began to read. There, in his daily notes, were all the words she had never heard from his lips. Long poems of love and devotion, love letters pouring out his heart, long conversations about peace and happiness because she was part of his life. Then, in the newest, longest letters - fear. Descriptions of his disease and what it was doing to his body. Tear stained lines about pain and suffering, long monologues about God, anger, and loneliness.
Here, in these letter, was the husband she left behind. The one that she ignored and took for granted, right up to the final days of his life, and after - putting him behind her like an old sweater given to charity.
In the busy-ness of her life, she missed an opportunity, every single day, to know her husband.
And she wept.