Feeling miserable one day - in a vulnerable and weepy state I made a small dish of yogurt and frozen blueberries. As I managed to swallow a couple of spoonfuls, I thought about my mom and the bowl of ice cream she nursed at Denny's the night after my father died. My dad had died that morning and, after spending most of the day in shock and grieving, we thought we should try and get something to eat.
We drove to Denny's from the Microtel - my brother John, my husband Tom, and my mother and myself - just the four of us. My mom sat hunched over her dish of vanilla ice cream doing her level best to take a few bites and enjoy it. She was with us and yet so completely, visibly and utterly alone. My husband and I have spoken about this - Tom remarking with tenderness how sweet and sad my mom looked the evening over her ice cream. Of course she did, she had just lost the love of her life. "Goodbye my love, good bye my darling," she kept saying over and over as we stood by his bed in the hospital. He was gone, body motionless and cool - but she was stroking him - those last gestures of body to body contact. I cannot fathom her pain, but know that it was at least as great as her love. I love my Tom in this way and it scares me to think that someday one of us might have to say goodbye like that.
This vision of her with the ice cream was so private - an intensely private moment that we were allowed to witness because she let us. Her heart broken and bare and her love so much bigger than decorum or care for appearances. Did she find some comfort for herself in a mouthful or two of ice cream as we sat close by, making our small talk? She barely spoke, just looked down at her ice cream, slowly savoring each mouthful, taste by taste. My dad loved ice cream. And he had a great appreciation for a good vanilla. He especially loved to eat it contained in a cantaloupe half -filled, sprinkled with a few blueberries.
Today has been a hard day. This is still a difficult time of year. My heart still remembers. Why do we willingly, knowingly fall so deeply in love with each other when we know that we must eventually let go? Is this choice even ours to make?
I want to savor the little things and let myself be content with the knowledge that I have loved, and have been loved - and let that small thing be enough. Enough to fill my heart for a lifetime. If there is something, some essence, some indescribable space called God - then let it be nothing more than the honor of seeing an old woman eating ice cream at Denny's, and eating it slowing, tiny spoonful by tiny spoonful, not only for herself but for her love, her darling, so that his dry and parched throat, no longer able to breathe or swallow, can once more taste sweetness.