Each month, Kati Mac and her crew will be telling stories from the flower shop. This month’s installment is a heartwarming story about a soldier returning from Iraq. As Kellyn writes, “To this day, I still think about him and his story inspires me.”
A Soldier’s Return
by Kellyn McNamara
One sunny, Saturday morning in mid-March I was working alone when a customer walked in from the street, looking for a bouquet of loose, wrapped flowers.
“Just make it bright and cheery,” he said, “with tulips if you have them.” I’m ashamed to admit, but I was peeved about having to make a bouquet so early in the morning when I was more focused on getting everything organized for the rest of the day.
Regardless, I began working, choosing vibrant, colorful gerbera daisies, roses, green hydrangea, wax flower, and soft, baby-pink tulips. While I was wrapping the flowers, I asked him, “So, what’s the occasion?”
“They’re for my girlfriend,” he began, then told me a story that tugged my heart strings, and changed my gloomy outlook.
He told me he was a Marine who had just returned a few weeks ago from his final tour in Iraq. “I’m still learning to cope with some of the things I saw there. I don’t like loud noises anymore, or crowds,” he told me. “My friends want to take me out to celebrate, but I don’t want to go.” He dropped his head for a second, then smiled slightly and said, “But I’ve been going to counseling, and it’s getting better.”
I was speechless. I tried to reassure him that we was doing the right things, taking the right steps toward coping. Any words I could muster sounded cheap to me after what he had revealed.
Then he said, “I wanted to get these for my girlfriend to show how much I care about her, and how much she means to me.” We both smiled, and I told him I thought she would really appreciate that.
He paid, and left with his flowers, but his story stuck with me all day. I felt so grateful for everything I had, and for the caring people like him who could experience such tragedy, but still believe in love and giving. I was so happy to have met him. To this day I still think about him, and his story inspires me.
By Kellyn McNamara