How A Cheeseburger and Fries Helped Me Resolve A Lost Love
Two hours of reflection and tears
Earlier this week, we had a beautiful January afternoon in Southeast Texas. The temperatures lingered in the mid-seventies with a few showers on the horizon. A warm breeze fluttered through the trees. It was a day to spend outdoors.
The weather would change as an arctic front was barreling down from the north. Within twenty-four hours, the warmth would disappear like a melted marshmallow.
People were on the golf courses, taking advantage of the excellent weather. Many were taking leisurely walks on neighborhood trails. Others were at the parks while cyclists filled the streets.
The day was worthy of time off from an indoor routine.
I had already planned to run some errands. But the beauty of the day and the tranquility it offered caused me to rethink my schedule. All I wanted was to be near water, outdoors, enjoying a few hours to myself.
And that's what I did. I unconsciously headed off to a lakeside patio bar that I had not been to in many years.
I have been going to this particular bar for over twenty years. It is a sprawling complex with the ambiance of an old Texas Icehouse on steroids. Its landmark location anchors the southern tip of a large lake. Painted in pink and teal, it stands out as an unofficial navigation aid for those on the water, with a vast parking lot for those coming in from the highway.
Upon arriving, I instinctively sat down at the table my wife and I used to like. Speaking to the waitress, I unconsciously ordered iced tea with a lime and a cheeseburger with fries. It was too early for a beer.
There was no need to see a menu. Being a Jimmy Buffet fan, a Cheeseburger in Paradise is always my go-to lunch at places like this. Besides, their cheeseburgers on a sweet jalapeno bun are classic. Their fries are crunchy on the outside, soft and steamy on the inside. It's the perfect meal.
As I quietly waited on my food, my mind wandered back to the many years my wife I spent at that table, watching the water, listening to outlaw country music while chattering between ourselves. I would sip on a frosty beer while she enjoyed white wine spritzers. We would nibble on a plate of cheesy nachos with extra jalapenos and relax the afternoon away.
Closing my eyes, I could see her sitting next to me, relaxing and enjoying herself, with her hair blowing in the breeze. Our times there were never burdened with kids or grandkids; It was our little escape that no one knew.
Our commitment to each other was strong for over four decades. Our relationship began in college; our life together was positive. We never considered separation, divorce or infidelity. Our challenges were always managed effectively.
And then, sadly, an illness she had in high school reared its ugly head. It wasn't the illness itself but the treatments she received that had a slow negative effect on her body.
She passed quietly in 2017.
As a family, we bounced back in a few months. I like to think I had recovered emotionally. But sometimes, I'm not sure I had closed the circle within myself.
Of course, I have the emotions of a rock. But that day, something different inside of me got stirred up.
I realized I hadn't been to our favorite place since her death. We had stopped going when she needed oxygen, as it was hard for her to climb in and out of cars.
While I sat there nibbling my food, I began having flashbacks of our companionship. I even think I physically saw her. I heard her voice whispering in my ear. A calming effect engulfed my body; I smelled her perfume and listened to the clink of ice in a drink that wasn't there.
Only me and my thoughts and possibly my wife's spirit were in the patio area. My heart was calm, and after four years, I felt I had stumbled on the last link to closing our relationship.
Tears filled my eyes, my macho manliness dissolved as my quest for closure was finally met.
"Goodbye, my love," I said one final time. And then I left.
About the Creator
Lee J. Bentch
I am a general interest author actively involved with technology and communications. My inspiration to write is multi-dimensional. I am a multi-service Veteran.with a Masters in Communications from the University of Northern Colorado.
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