One of life’s small sad facts is there are people we no longer see who nevertheless gave us some of our best or most important experiences. But they don’t know it and never will. That’s because we didn’t know it until much later, looking back.
She thought about the summer in Greece almost thirty years before when they were together and flew from island to island on cheap rattle’y propeller planes whenever they felt like it. They stayed in ten dollar rooms with the toilet outside down the hall. They read wilted, water-stained books while sitting next to each other on the balconies off their rooms, or in the shade at beach tavernas— the sea in front of them calm and beautiful. No matter what kind of accommodations they rented, there always seemed to be a view of the sea. Every day they ate salads of tomatoes, lemons, olives, and thick chunks of chalk-white feta cheese drizzled in fresh olive oil for lunch. They rented a blue Vespa. They walked on black volcanic sand. He bought them baseball caps because the Greek sun was so intense. She was happy then and knew it. But her heart needed three decades more to understand just *how* happy she had been— Hall of Fame-happy, once in a lifetime-happy. By the time she realized it, he was many years gone.
One of her final wishes was that she could tell him, thank him for those days together. And if life were magical, which it is not, to sit together again in one of those small outdoor tavernas at sunset watching the harbor, the boats, the stars coming out, their dinner being prepared, him."