Twelve years ago I ate my Thanksgiving dinner at Good Enough to Eat and pretended to be content in my singleton’s solitude, refusing to admit that my heart was sick in more ways than one. Three weeks later I called an ambulance for myself, and the woman who is now my beloved wife showed up in my hospital room two days later. We’ve been together ever since—but today we’re fifteen hundred miles apart.
Mrs. T is up in Vermont with her family. As for me, I’m dining with Bill Hayes and Sue Ellen Beryl, the married couple who jointly run Palm Beach Dramaworks, where Billy and Me will be opening two weeks from now. To be sure, Bill and Sue Ellen are far more than mere colleagues: I love them both dearly, and will take much comfort in sharing their family’s dinner. But it’s been a long time, longer than I can remember, since Mrs. T and I were last apart on Thanksgiving, and to say that I miss her is to greatly understate the case.
I am one of those fortunate sons who had a happy childhood full of warmly remembered holidays, and who for that reason have come to find those same holidays increasingly difficult in middle age. As I wrote in this space after my mother died in 2012:
Most of us outlive our parents, and once we do, the winter holidays become, among many other things, a reminder of what we’ve lost. Perhaps those who had unhappy childhoods feel differently, but when I was a boy, the holidays were always a time of shadowless delight. Throughout my youth and long past it, my mother’s family, which was both large and close, gathered at my grandmother’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at groaning tables full of savory goodies. Now those days are gone.
What makes this difficult season tolerable, as I wrote in 2012, is “the strong and enduring joy that Mrs. T and I, against all odds, have found in one another in the middle of our lives. We have much to be thankful for, and we know it.” That, of course, makes it harder still for me to be so far away from my life’s companion, though it also heightens my already-intense awareness of the great good fortune that brought the two of us together in an indifferent universe where chance is in the saddle and rides mankind. The fact that we are physically separated today does not weaken in the least the tie that binds us.
For this—forever—much thanks.