Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday night dinners

For years, Linda was a regular at our table. We soaked up pieces of French bread in a peppery olive oil and nearly made a meal of that with a glass of wine. When we went gluten-free, we skipped pre-meal dining, unnoticed. The wine, however, stayed.

I had flowers in a vase every week, except in winter. Music played throughout the rooms. In warmer months, we sometimes walked through the garden or in the field and talked. And often we just sat at Joel's table, with the warm, yellow light of the chandelier glowing warmer as evening wore on. Oh, the life.

I kept an eye out for her arrival. She took her time backing her car up to park. "Miss Linda's here!" one of the kids would call if they caught her. And Linda walked inside with a cheery, "Hello-hello!"

We talked about education, books, gardening, life. She told me about her friends or growing up or plans she had with my dad. We often hugged goodbye. Mostly, Linda was our regular on Friday nights, and occasionally other families joined us.

These months, it's been hard not having her here. Our Friday night dinners, once thoughtfully planned, have become a Friday night free-for-all. I pull out leftovers. The kids fend for themselves with breakfast for dinner if they don't want what I'm reheating. It feels like I had to flip a switch to not even think of Linda and Friday nights together anymore, and in that flip switching, had to suppress the great loss of friendship. It feels like a lifetime ago.

When my dad died, my table became empty. I can't even begin to grasp Thanksgiving yet. And often I've wondered, heartaching, "Who will fill my table?"

Tonight, I prepare a table for twenty. The guests are all bringing a side or dessert and we are providing the grilling. If the rain holds off, we will line tables up end to end down the patio. If it doesn't, we'll crowd around the dining room table.

Linda was a quiet one and would have loved just watching all the bustle and activity. Later we would have talked about our favorite parts of the evening, if she were here. In my mind, and in my heart, her sweet memory is here. It's the first Friday since our last one with her (in January) that we've hosted a dinner.

Oh, how I miss her. This day a mix of joy and sorrow.

Life is a feast. Share it and savor.

No comments: