By the Light of the Moon

Last night I went walking by the light of the moon. I was in a group, and we strode on a trail beside a riverbed, so we didn’t have to deal with traffic, which is just as well. Even with the full moon, we would have been invisible to drivers. (I couldn’t see the couple who walked in front of my car as I drove to the rendezvous until I was almost on them. Good thing they were aware of me, though it wasn’t bright of them to be so careless.)

I don’t remember ever taking a moonlit walk before. When I was a young adult, before I got my car (the same one I have now, incidentally) I walked to work, and I often had to hike home alone in the dark. I suppose during many of those city nights there had been a visible moon, but streetlights brought the sky in close, so something as far away as the moon would not have been as impressive or as memorable as the moon last night.

I do remember one particular night walk — it had to have been almost twenty-five years ago when my now deceased life mate/soul mate was still strong and healthy and up for adventure. We were living in a small town. Snow had fallen, and no one was about. No cars were on the road. All was still. Not even a hint of a breeze. We could hear the crunch of pristine snow beneath our feet, and the almost cathedral-like silence. It was bright — we weren’t walking in pitch black — but I don’t know if the light came from a moon or from ambient light reflected off the snow. We only walked a few blocks to a small town square. We stood there for a few minutes, enjoying the magical night, and then we headed back.

I don’t recall any other night walks. We spent the last couple of decades in ranching country, and an irrigation ditch ran in front of the house. Stagnant water. Mosquitoes. Need I say more? Well, maybe I do. I’m sensitive to mosquito venom — the bites always make me sick — so as much as possible I stayed inside when evening came. Besides, I didn’t much like the thought of meeting a coyote or a fox (or even an angry dog) on that empty country road.

So last night was a treat. A cool, clear, autumn evening with a hint of a breeze. A few stars. And a moon so bright in the huge empty sky, it cast our shadows on the pathway.

A walk worth remembering. A walk worth writing about.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

In the Company of Married Women

I had lunch with some friends today, which would have been nice though not particularly significant if it weren’t that all the women were married. Since the death of my life mate/soul mate, most of my friends have been my fellow bereft — my sisters in sorrow — but gradually I’ve been meeting women who are still coupled. Today was the first time I found myself in the company of only married women.

I was actually okay — no tears — but it did make me sad to listen to these women talk about their husbands’ irritating qualities. Although I sympathized, I wanted to cry out to them to treasure every momenluncht, even the most exasperating incidences, because in the end, every moment spent with the person you love (or once loved) is a golden moment.

But I kept my mouth shut. Anything I said — even a gentle request to give their husbands an extra hug that night — would have seemed as if I were chastising them, and if my words didn’t strike such a note, I would still have turned the focus of the conversation from them and their comfortable confidences to me and my uncomfortable realities. Besides, until you have lost your mate, you simply cannot understand how precious every moment is. You’re caught up in the daily struggle to maintain your autonomy in the face of someone else’s wishes, the struggle to get all of the day’s chores finished, the struggle to find a harmonious balance between aging bodies and youthful spirits. You don’t have the energy to focus on distant tragedy.

So, I’m telling you what I would have liked to say to them. Smile at your mate instead of ignoring or arguing with him. Give him an extra hug and maybe a kiss. Thank whatever powers you believe in that no matter how irritating he might be, you have him for one more day. This is an incredible gift I am giving you — a memory to treasure if ever you should become one of us bereft.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.