Eternity is found in the moment, and the moments are strung together like semi-precious stones on a cord until the fates cut the thread.
It wasn't so many years ago, but it feels like many years. It feels like a lifetime has passed. Days in which we barely knew each other, days in which we came together, days of love, days of decline in health, and one terrible day that I will never forget, a day of departure.
The 1st of July was always our special day, our anniversary. We would always do something special, usually going out to Bistro Soleil for a quiet meal. It was a nice restaurant, good food, a reasonably priced set menu, close to the sea, but above all, small and intimate. It was the perfect restaurant for lovers.
It has gone now, or at least changed its name. The colours have been redecorated, and it looks different. I can't put my finger on how a name change makes a difference, but it does. It is in the memory, you see. The memory of the nights there, holding hands over the table. The Valentine's Day meal, where the desert was small chocolates and truffles on one large plate, to be shared. The friendly maître d' coming out to see if everything was right. The warm glow of the lighting. And like you, my sweet Annie, that has gone too. It is perhaps a blessing. I cannot go back there with friends, and spoil those memories. They have been sealed in the past, and it is a past which brooks no return.
It was misty when we first met, on the 1st of July. Can you believe that? The middle of July, mid-day, and cold, damp mist. It is like that now, at the end of June, and of course people are asking where summer has gone. But I remember that damp wet day, the mist swirling, thick, at the start of July. Days like those are significant; it may just be the first day we met, but I won't forget it.
I'd taken an afternoon's holiday especially off work, and we decided to meet at lunchtime at Big Vern. Neither of us knew quite what to expect. There are moments of awkwardness, aren't there, when you meet a stranger for the first time, just you and them. And I can still see you, arriving late, walking in from the misty car park, and I saw you at last, and you me.
We talked, and I know Star Trek, your favourite TV series, came into the talk somewhere on the way. And many other things, as the book says, of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings. And when we left, we agreed to meet again, neither of us quite knowing where it would lead to, nor to the five joyful years we would have together.
There's a cliché that quality of life is more important than quantity, but clichés often only embody what we know to be the truth. Some people, of course, have nearly a lifetime together, but for others it is all too brief. But that's no less significant, for time spent together cannot be weighed and measured in scales, any more than your ashes, now scattered into the world's wind, can be gathered.
Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes were left behind
In ashes yet with hope that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In Lenten Lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day.
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