Once a year my three daughters and I make our little pilgrimage to Olive Garden. Ultimately, one of us, or all of us, come with roses in hand to meet as promised. The "Let's go out and be incredibly thankful that we are still together!" is our pledge, born out of the death of my daughter eight years ago and has been steadfastly kept. This year was a bit more challenging to keep that promise, but with a few adjustments to everyone's schedule we all met as planned.
The evening started out with a bit of an edge, as the hostess was not one with the most-est and refused to honor our special request for the corner booth. Her excuse was that there were no servers for that 'one'! Now friends, I can respect the fact that a whole area is closed with no wait staff. But, mind you, this was ONE booth in an area where five other booths were being served. It was time for the Mominator! Converging on the enemy with blossoms in tow and a bow of diplomacy, the bugaboo was exterminated. Feeling like I just won the war of the roses we moved to the booth we desired.
Tucked away in our shadowed, little corner of the world, we munched a meal, mingled memories, lingered over laughs, and a downed a decanter of sangria. We included our server in our hilarious celebration. Afterward, he informed us that we were the talk of olive town as the four beautiful women seated at booth #whatever, and our lavish laughter was the entertainment for that section. We were rewarded with a free dessert and an after dinner show rapped by our server. No kidding folks! Our server rapped us a poem about death, life, and inspiration.
Feeling a little blushed but beautiful we left the olive behind and headed for the headstone at Westlawn. Arriving at our destination we discovered the plaque unkempt and the handle of the inverted vase broken off. We were all silent for a moment as a non-voiced violation passed between us. Not only because of broken bronze but at the unfairness of life, the cheat of death, and a host of other painful memories and emotions.
Then with dogged determination we decided that this year while laying our roses to rest, it was time for Sharon to get back in on the family photos.
We knelt in the wet grass.
Joked about an empty wheelchair.
Hugged a ghost and kissed a spirit.
We laughed off our grief and in the end each of us knew we would continue to look up.
Walking back to our ride we noticed something small and speckled in the grass. Looking closer we discovered a baby sparrow. At first we thought he was injured, but when I reached down to touch him he fluttered away. We left brimming with belief and hallowed hope for the future when one of us exclaimed, "His eye is on the sparrow!"
And I know He watches me!!
And I know He watches me!!