Yesterday was the second anniversary of that sad event Maryanne has named, “Patrick’s Very Bad Day”. Last year I was in Paris for this day, wandering around in a tres melodramatic haze, thinking to myself “Mais, il est mort. Mon frere. Il est mort.” Paris is, in general a good place to go when you are feeling sad, melancholy or blue, because the city lends itself to soulful lingering at cafes, gazing into the middle distance while every once in a while using that little tiny spoon to stir the sugar you have, so sacreligiously, put into your cafe.
Luckily, I was saved from my Paris melancholia by my friend Jim, who had invited me to come stay in Provence with him and his family — A week in the sunny south with loving people who had all, to the one of them, survived terrible losses — dead family is a theme among us — they saved me from the terrible loneliness of being in a big city where I didn’t really know anyone, and where for the first time, Patrick was not waiting for me to come home.
So, last night. I’d been kind of hoping that the date would just slip us all by, but our lovely friends, the ones who have saved me these past two years, asked what we should do. The only thing I could think of was that we should go to our friend Jim’s restaurant (different Jim than the France Jim). Jim’s, where we celebrated Patrick’s 38th birthday two weeks before he died. Jim’s, where Patrick looked up from the end of that table in the front window, wearing his goofy blue birthday hat, and made a toast. “Despite some setbacks this year,” he said, referring to the woman he’d loved, who’d gone back to her ex, the job he’d sought and hadn’t gotten, the couple of months he’d spent living in my spare room in the basement. “Despite all that, I just want to thank you all,” he said, raising a glass in the air. Jim started to razz him, calling him a sentimental Irishman, but Patrick went on. “I just want to thank you all. I’ve never had such a happy year. I’ve never had such wonderful friends, or felt so welcomed into a community. Thank you for taking us both in, and for being such wonderful friends.”
That terrible night two weeks later when everyone was gathered in my kitchen, it was Patrick’s toast we kept referring to, how happy he’d been, how he was getting it together, how he’d survived the breakup and his new business was starting to take off. So last night we all gathered at Jim’s, that same group who came that first night, who came to my kitchen and stayed with me, and who have stayed with me ever since. We had a bottle of champagne, and toasted our missing friend, and ate some food and told some stories and it was just good to be together. Oh, and what Patrick said. Thank you. All of you.