I recently returned from a daughter’s commencement, which took place in a sea of vivid orange, rendered all the more retina-searingly indelible by juxtaposition with black. Flora conspired in the effect, fireworks of stamen and pistil bursting from coral blooms.
My little tiger.
The campus I rarely visit is the place I met my husband, and the memories at each turn are as sharply etched as the line between orange and black.
He did not live to see our daughter there; to know she would join his undergraduate department and spend a summer diving in emerald seas and studying with his thesis adviser; to watch her graduate with accolades her parents did not approach.
A newly-widowed wife wrote recently of her assurance that she will never feel pure joy again. This caused me to pause a beat before agreeing. Even a joyful event like a child’s graduation–and there now have been five such high school and college milestones without my children’s father–is tempered by and freighted with the absence.
What is not there can be as vivid as what one can see.