"You look so happy," Dave says as Stuart and I stand awkward and wordless before him. I bend down to wrap my arms around him and wonder, Where is the good in this? Where? A week before we bumped into Dave and his wife, Deb, down at the Famous Brands. Deb glowed with good health and good news and for the remainder of the day we basked in the unexpected good fortune of meeting these old friends. And now there is Dave minus Deb. How can this be?
"It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live." Mark Twain's Own Autobiography
"You look so happy." We do not look happy but somehow this remark makes sense because Dave has loved with his wife, his friend, over two decades and perhaps he finds a glimpse of their companionship in our reflection. Dave sits at a table in their bistro. Their dream made good. He wears the marks of a violent parting. A bruised face. A blue-black eye. My fingers brush what feels like stitches on his left arm. Broken ribs. These tell the tale of how the one who was bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh was taken and he was left. Someone else comes and we slip out to the deck blazing in the setting sun. We are crushed among hundreds and hundreds of people, some friends. We talk of making time for what is important, of making changes to make time, of what made that marriage stand out. And we all, all, are touched that one so vibrant, is no longer whole and here.
At eight o'clock a fork tings against a glass, a hush falls, pictures of Deb flash on a screen. Dave climbs on something and stands above the crowd. He, who has been transformed by her, pulls an index card out of his pocket, twenty plus years compressed into scrawl on a scrap of paper. How can mere letters, sounds...contain, reflect this great love? A thousand people hurt for Dave. He gathers courage, says a few brief words, "motivated... good mother...good wife. To Deb" A thousand glasses are raised to a life well lived and to the one who loved her well.
This scene scars our hearts, Stuart's and mine, and motivates us to love and live better, today. And maybe, for us, this is the ray of good.