His voice on the phone created an image from 1977,
The young minister from Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
“Meet us for breakfast tomorrow?”
Memories of laughter with the young couple, pastor and artist,
Flooded my evening as I remembered fun times together
Watching them in posh restaurants drinking gallons of coffee
And ordering yet more dinner rolls.
Then tears came remembering her tragic aneurysm
And his depth of anguish, disbelief, lostness.
And here he was again, married to another artist,
After an eternity of pain and loneliness.
Would our meeting hark back to great fun or great grief?
They enter the café and we fold into each other’s arms,
Laughing and recreating 1977 while shocked at our aging.
Voices the same, bodies changed.
The stories, memories and family photos
Warm our hearts and quiet the ever-present grief.
Joy that he has found love again;
Amazed at his fertile poetic mind;
Same edgy sense of humor, sense of political ethics.
Proud of his talented artist-wife,
Whose love saved his life.
Embarrassed yet proudly he signs his beautiful book of poems,
Calling attention to his daughter’s paintings and his wife’s art;
Complimenting my granddaughter’s book of poems.
Our stories flirt with 1977 and other years past
When 41 and 31 began to fly toward 85 and 75,
When idealism and passion began to mature
And life began to hurt two who would live their best.
Unspoken debts of love, admiration, respect
Pool beneath the loud talk and fun.
Awkward parting when it is impossible to untangle lives,
And promises to see each other again
When the voices are from 1977 and the lives will be 2021.
*The Rev. James Berbiglia, is a retired Army Chaplain (Lieutenant
Colonel) and close friend for over forty-three years. Jim counseled
me when I was a struggling young minister in a new congregation. Then
the unpredictable happened, counselor and counselee became friends.
We became jogging and tennis buddies. Several years later, after
my late wife died tragically in a day of a cerebral hemorrhage
at the age of 49, Jim called long-distance regularly to check in
on me. Those calls helped keep me alive. My wife Chris and I
recently had breakfast with Jim in San Antonio, Texas. The poem
BREAKFAST 2020 is Jim’s response to that wonderful visit.