“On a day like today, we laughed the time away, writing love letters in the sand.” I hear myself strumming my version of an oldie on a guitar in the back yard. Of course, I never in my life played a guitar, but here I am strumming and singing it to Charlie. We’re sitting at a picnic table in the cool dusk of an early fall night.
He’s laughing. Yep. Laughing up a storm as I sing. He knows I can’t play, but he’s enjoying that I am trying. And sometimes it almost seems like I hit a note right or strum a chord right as I play and sing. That makes us chuckle, with abandon. We’re young – around mid twenties or something. Our laughter is probably making the neighbors mad because it is getting towards night.
We are kids and are just fully enjoying our time with the guitar. He’s been “playing” too and he is not much better than me. In fact our merriment gets so loud that we are snorting as we suck in air because it is all so hilarious.
Pretty soon Charlie decides to go in the house. We live in an old house with little attic doors between the rooms in some places. We have lots of friends over for the night. After a few more songs, I head up to find where Charlie went.
In my travels I see my friend Gail in her fuzzy robe just out of a shower, and ask if she’s seen him. Then I hear a lot of noise in the room though an attic door. Pushing the door open, I walk through to find three of our friends in foolish one piece pajamas- the kinds that are called long johns. They are for the winter in Maine, and it is getting deeper into fall. The three friends are giggling about something and getting ready for a pillow fight. Boy, we are young and foolish.
No cares. Nine-eleven hasn’t happened yet. We don’t have kids yet. Our life isn’t spread with responsibility yet. We are just enjoying our night and our friendships. I begin to tell them about playing the guitar outside with Charlie. Managing to sing the song again-we laughed the time away- and showing them how well I strummed the guitar. They sense our joy together singing and laughing, so they all join me, delighted about it. The joy is contagious and they are happy for Charlie and me.
Nothing tragic can touch us. I just open a door to the room where Charlie is, and I wake up. I know he will be sporting his belly laugh as we talk over the evening again before we sleep.
Wait a minute. I wake up! It is 2013 and Charlie has died more than a year ago. Of course we never knew each other when we were young. Never had a time around a picnic table to sing and pretend to play a guitar with friends. We only knew each other in prison or outside in a hospital. Never at home with friends. But I had been given a wonderful dream of what might have happened.
Now I am relishing what it was like before I woke up. Laughter was a signature of our times together behind the walls. Laughing until our sides ached. That part of the dream was real.
Lord, how I miss him. Thank You for the “memory” of a night when we were young with friends. I guess it is more like what might have been but the laughter was very real and fondly remembered.