In one of my favorite daydreams I am the hostess of a feast. All my dearly beloved friends and lovers are there at the table to meet each other and enjoy their company and mine. The table groans with delicious dishes and there’s a full bar against the wall where I mix everyone’s favorite drinks. It’s my fantasy, so people I’ve lost contact with are still there. Everyone gets along, too, even people I know probably couldn’t stand each other in real life.
In this world, there are empty chairs at the table. Diane, killed by a hit and run driver as she walked home from work. He apparently did stop long enough to jump out and steal her purse full of cash, so we have always thought it was someone who knew who she was – a dancer – if not a personal friend. Madonna, beaten to death by her husband outside her hotel room – she was trying to leave him – beside a busy street. No one stopped or even called the police. Vegas – stabbed over 20 times in the back by her mentally ill male roommate who claimed it was self-defense. He was six-one, she was under five feet tall and weaponless, walking out the door. Becky – who killed herself in despair after her boyfriend left her, knowing she could not go home to her extreme Christian family who had disowned her for dating a black man and becoming a dancer. Rachel – who also killed herself after years with an abusive man. My husband’s stepfather’s chair is empty. He died of an infection, after Medicare decided he didn’t need the shots his doctor prescribed that would help prevent infection during chemotherapy.
Maybe someday, in Summerland, I can hold this feast and all these empty chairs will be filled. The empty chairs then will be for the friends who are still here in this life, living and loving, laughing and learning, and we can all peek into their lives and smile – knowing the time will come when they will join the feast full of memories and stories to share.