Saturday, November 10, 2007

speech after long silence

"How does he look? Is his hair gray?" The phone call came from an acquaintance who had heard an old friend of mine had passed through town briefly.

I paused and thought a while; it has been a few years since I last saw him, and nearly a decade since he moved to another region, remarried, had new children. There was a time...well, it was long ago.

I said "yes, his hair is graying now, but he looks good". And indeed, the ones I love look perpetually beautiful to me; I am just not a terribly visual soul; I tend to see with the eyes of love, and those are unwavering.

To this brief visit he brought the oldest of the new children. The other children, the children of the first marriage, had been the ages of two of my own, and in those long ago days they were with me and my children day after day, extensions of my heart, as much my own as the children of my body. I had not met the first child of the new marriage, though I sent him, and his small brother, embroidered blankets when they were born, and their mother has sent photos over the years.

The little boy and his dad rushed into the shop as I was due to go out for a peace vigil. The father, as he always did, engulfed me in an embrace. The little boy stood quietly by. "Hello" said I, and told him my name, you must be...oh, let's call him James, which is not his name at all, and held out my hand. He gravely took it. A most polite child, the image of his older brother, who is now in college, save that he has his mother's fair coloring.

"She's been a friend of mine a long time" said his father.

The store was very busy, my partner not back yet from a visit to a friend in another town. My old friend and I spoke quickly of many things--the older children, the youngest child, with his mom in another state for a visit to her family. I helped the child find some interesting books. There is something of his grandfather in his eyes, I thought--I had loved that rough and ready guy tremendously, as well as his elegant wife. Both are dead now, but I could see flashes of the past darting like light over the six year old's face.

Time is a strange thing. My friend said he and his family are considering moving out of state, to be near his wife's family. That will be wonderful for your boys, said I.

I play music these days, at night, after everyone is asleep, he said. I drift off into that world--there's no pain there, there is beauty. I think of you, sometimes.

The little boy wanted to know why the dog wears a sock, and I told him Champ's story. My youngest child wanted to see his old friend--my friend was Gabriel's stalwart helper and champion in many ways, back when Gabe was tiny. I could tell James seemed puzzled--a big kid with Down Syndrome; might have been the first person he had met like this. I trust his father will explain. My friend said, "wow, last time he didn't have any facial hair at all" and Gabe smiled, for he is proud of his bit of pale fuzz.

And the phone rang, and my partner returned, and someone needed books on how to train dogs, and a kid I've helped came in to tell me he was out of jail, again, and to return the money he'd borrowed, and I needed to get to my vigil.

I wish we had a longer time to talk, said my friend.

I do too, I said. It is lovely to have met you, I said to James. You have your mother's beautiful eyes. Not that there is anything wrong with your dad's eyes, mind you.

My friend laughed, and left.

I found my peace signs and adjusted my black clothing and rushed out to my corner, apologizing to Sara for being late. And watched them drive away.

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Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:11 AM, November 16, 2007  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

There are times that I think you must have somehow touched everyone in the world, in some way. What you write, it gives me hope. Thank

(Sorry about the above; I had a typo and it bugged me.) ;)

11:13 AM, November 16, 2007  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Thank you, dear livewire.

7:00 PM, November 25, 2007  

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