There’s a loud chatter around me from dozens of conversations, vacation energy expressed in Spanish, German, French, English, Mandarin, Italian.
My technology has failed me. I am forced to put pen to page of Moleskine (a gift from the kids).
A catamaran at the mouth of the bay has just been joined by a pleasure yacht, kids jumping off the stern, adult swimming near a rubber dinghy dragged behind.
I keep looking up to the empty chair across from me, hoping he will somehow reappear and take his seat.
I hear his stories, but there is only the mumbled din of tourists. I see his eyes, dancing in the vigor of another pun, but there is only water and rock before me. I feel his frail body in tight embrace, but my arms find only air.
At last a young woman arrives with water and wine, scribbles down my order, promises to deliver my lemon fish without onions.
I take a sip of Chardonnay, defying his copa de tinto mantra, but he doesn’t chide me for my selfish choice of white wine, not red, to go with my verderol a la plancha.
With a nearly-autumn breeze drifting through the open restaurant, and bamboo mats overhead obscuring the brilliant sky above, I am comfortable here, far outside my comfort zone.
Two tables down, a baby watches his father with rapt attention, learning how to break bread. Did I study Patrick so intently at that age? Or was I already self-absorbed, focused only on my own wants and needs?
I’ll never know — I can’t ask him now. How many other questions did he abandon that lovely afternoon near Valldemossa? Does any of it matter now?
“Never mind” he would say, twirling his fingers just so.
Yesterday the village installed his marker in the cemetery. He has a whole wall to himself, in his memory and of Stephanie’s, just down the steps from her own sweet stone.
The strangers at the long table get more animated in a conversation, then erupt into momentary pause, as if silence suddenly carries more weight, if only for a moment, like half rests nestled between a flurry of sixteenth notes.
Perhaps I’ll visit his plaque again before I leave.
14 September 2017
In the upper restaurant at the Cala
Deia, Mallorca, Spain
© 2017 John P. M. Dillon