For as long as I can remember I have cherished the hours of the early morning.
Whether it was in my unheated office down by the lake where I cradled a cup of coffee in my hands to warm up my fingers before returning them to the keyboard while awaiting the first winter fisherman of the day, or more recently – given that office by the lake was destroyed by fire – at my ancient desk at home where occasionally the light of a sunrise will briefly highlight the text before me, whether there at the lake or here at home a pervasive quietness allows my mind to reflect, to read, to write.
Now that I lost my wife of 50 years to cancer, more precious still is the first brightening of the day, sunlight slowly dispelling the darkness, shafts of the curtain-filtered sun’s rays slipping here and there through the stillness of our home.
It was W. Somerset Maugham who wrote in Of Human Bondage hishaunting portrayal of the great mass of humanity: “Succumbing to an influence they never realized, they were merely dupes of the instinct that possessed them, and life slipped through their fingers unlived.”
A life unlived is like a house unfurnished – without laughter, and love, and loss.
A life unlived is a wife’s hand too often not held, her touch, the sound of her voice, too often taken for granted.
As to pain, we plumbed its depths.
As “to love and to cherish” we kept our promise.
As to life, my wife and I lived it, not allowing it to slip through our fingers.