I look at the photo I impulsively snapped yesterday of this tender man so essential and dear to me and know that the expression on his face and in his eyes is for me and me alone in the world; that it wells up in him from our more than thirty years together as lovers, dreamers, builders, and best friends who each bring unique gifts to the table of our long marriage. No one has known me, or ever will, like Buck. And we will never have enough time to get it all said. But we try, oh how we try, and therein is great joy.
We wonder about the whether and whither of life after death. Do we want to go if we are not together? Will the wisdom gained in loving be used in some ineffable stream of human consciousness? Will we say goodbye or merely farewell? Will death be silent or a crush of voices from the past or something else entirely beyond our imagination? What holy man can tell us? Perhaps a young one, with the certitude of youth. I only know the journey together is sweet like ripe berries, deeply nuanced, rich, satisfying, and draws out the best within me. I have been showered with a sky full of lucky stars. My heart feasts on gratitude daily, and its storehouse is full for the duration.
There is an oasis in downtown Pensacola that had gotten lost in the slipstream of our memory. We rediscovered it yesterday, when Buck said, “Let’s go see what’s happening at Seville Quarter. Maybe they’ll feed us lunch.” Apple Annie’s Courtyard at Seville Quarter was dappled in sunshine and shade on this cool, crisp day. Our server, Anne, let us select just the table we wanted and then tossed a snowy white tablecloth in the air like a master pizza chef so that it came down lightly on the round cast iron and glass table.
Buck ordered a cup of house-made seafood gumbo and the salad bar (laden with lovely artichoke hearts, pickled okra, cherry peppers, and other delights). I ordered a bowl of gumbo with a smidgeon of rice . It came in a traditional shallow, wide, white bowl and was accompanied by sliced French bread. It was the best of New Orleans’ French Quarter, right here in our own little town. Anne, a warm and gracious person, hugged us on our way out and wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be seeing her again next week for a repeat of that seafood gumbo and the ambiance of the courtyard.
Wherever you are, whether or not Thanksgiving is a part of your cultural tradition, I know that every day with a grateful heart is happier than any day without one. As to what comes next, I can’t believe that this is all there is, even though on a personal level it’s surely enough. I believe at the very least that our small flickers of energy will pool with others for a brighter light. I’ll eat a bite of Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce today and wish you the very best of all this astonishing life has to offer and teach.