My wife was sleeping on the couch in the family room but as I gently lifted her feet to make room for me, she awakened.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“Three in the morning,” I replied.
“Why are you up so early?”
I didn’t immediately reply but just took her hand with one of my own and with the other brushed at my tears.
She sat up.
“The boathouse is gone. Destroyed by fire. We’ve lost everything.”
Our place of business, a resort on a lake, memorabilia collected through a generation, nothing now but ashes.
We held hands and cried.
One year later, hauntingly almost to the day, on the eve of the first day of spring of this year, I sat with her again there on the couch in the family room. I held her hand. It would be our last night together. Her battle with cancer was at end.
I lost everything.
A half-century of marriage to my dearest treasure on all this earth, a match most definitely made in heaven, nothing now but memories.
Today, we gather, as our family often does, for reasons just because, in a place where beauty abounds.
Where charred timbers once threatened to collapse, now a patio of pavers, and benches, and planters upon planters proliferate for the tulips she so loved.
Where nothing lived, not grass, much less flowers, and menacing winter rains seemed to widen cracks in the weakening wall portending yet more devastation, now bumble bees happily jostle for position in blossom after blossom.
And when the last of the laughter is heard today, and all have gone to their own homes tonight, I’ll return, as I often do, to sit alone.
Where I will be thankful. And blessed. And at peace.
For all around me, where once were ashes, and sadness, there has come such beauty.