Nine years ago my husband spent Memorial Day weekend in the hospital while doctors evaluated what, if anything, they could do about the pseudo-aneurysm in his carotid artery sustained when he fell running for his train. Today my neighbor and her sons stand at her/their husband’s/father’s bedside while doctors try to revive his brain after successfully reviving his heart. My husband was conscious and complaining that he had to miss a beautiful spring weekend he feared would transform into a stultifying Midwestern summer before his release. My neighbors – no doubt – wish desperately that their loved one could whine about the weather.
I had planned a post on the joy of garden parties. What I write now is not so disconnected. To me the garden party is the ultimate celebration of life. I discovered them as student in Cambridge. Young, vital people swept away by the beauty of young, vital plants. We were all in fresh, full bloom.
My husband’s favorite part of my academic job is the May Garden Party we host for gleeful undergraduates contemplating British Scholarships. He grabs his camera, a cup of Pimms, then circulates with an a-typically English ear-to-ear grin and a raucous laugh.
Memorial Day closes a month filled with new life and notes the poignant truth that such joy cannot exist without pain. “Happily-ever-aftering” assumes a traumatic ‘before’ preceded it.