I came across this picture today on the web, and my heart crushed itself – a truly physical, real, sensation. I was suddenly SO SAD, and yet I knew myself to be so very lucky. The picture threw me back in time in an instant to an afternoon with my younger daughter during a week-long car trip we took together in her junior year of high school. We were visiting universities throughout the south – a classic parent-daughter college trip.
The loss of that moment was just unbearable.
I emailed the photo to her with this note:
This instantly made me think of that afternoon we spent at the café/restaurant in the tiny-town-ish enclave off to the side of the campus of – where? Emery? No, Wake Forest. We were sitting side by side on wooden stools at a wooden bar that ran along the outer wall under wide, tall, multi-paned windows just like these, facing out. I remember looking down the woodsy slope to the ravine below filled with tall trees, a stream running through it. The day was slightly gray and so the green, everywhere, was intense to the point of almost blue. As we talked together, I turned toward you and regarded your intelligent face of perfect proportions, your wide clear eyes looking far away, your smooth skin lit by the natural outside light. It was a moment of intensely painful beauty, without flaw in any respect.
We stayed there a long while, we had a nice talk, and we shared what is still, to this day, the very best bowl of steamed mussels (garlic, wine, butter) I have ever, ever eaten.
I love you and I miss you.
My note did not go on beyond that. I couldn’t write anymore. Typing it, I was slaying myself. Shakespearean, my interior played out a dramatic, wailing, knife-in-the-heart scene. So much life has been lived since then – so much has happened, and is gone.
We can never go back.