They sit in various configurations outside in the blue wonder of an early summer evening. In twos, fours, and sixes. At metal patio tables, flowers spilling nearby, breezes ruffling hair, wine glasses in hand. They hover closer amid traffic noises, accompanying music, others’ conversations. Their heads nearly touch. They dip their crusty bread into olive oil and parmesan cheese. They sip Cabernet between bites. They savor their ravioli, their summer salads their tiramisu. They share the mundane, their dilemmas their commonalities their dreams. Often they laugh out loud.

Afterwards, they walk to parked cars the long way, traipsing around an extra block, reluctant to end an evening when the air is this soft and the sunset is imminent. The twosomes slip hands together knowingly. Every touch is familiar, long-term, a history of love, of comfort. They breathe in the gentle summer evening like a gift.

And I, driving slowly through the “downtown” of our small city see these al fresco diners, these blessed meanderers and am pierced with longing. Through tears I remember all that I miss but all that I had.

April Carlson, MSW, LCSW, LLC