A lot happened in six years. Whirlwind. Changes.
Our little boys grew up. The one rowdy and bright eyed, the other rather mournful and private became men, smart and vibrant. And handsome. And have something of their uncle about them.
Our young men went to college; one became an architect, the other a designer. One graduated from architecture school at the top of his class and with his own company. The other passed, in the top five, into the Master’s Program in Design. One has designed houses, the other has designed websites and electronic harps among so many other things.
Two little boys became smart, clever, generous, independent men and have traveled far and wide, between the two of them New Orleans and Vietnam, Senegal and Sweden, and that is only the start. They are cultured and curious and are afraid of nothing, grabbing onto life and running!
I finally found my calling and became a writer, finding my voice, throwing myself boldly (unusual for a shy, doubtful one such as myself) into the ring and getting published in print and online. I have won awards and been interviewed, teach workshops and speak at conferences. I have been to Oman. I have an agent, a cookbook proposal and another on the way. I am writing a book.
We bought a hotel! The biggest change of all! We left Nantes and moved to Chinon, the loveliest, most tranquil spot in France, and are running a beautiful little hotel. 26 rooms! We’ve hosted an Australian film producer and French authors and artists, comic illustrators, and sommeliers. And what stories we have to tell. And I have learned to make jam and boy oh boy do I make jam! Fig and peach, plum and orange, banana and pear, strawberry and pneapple, and on and on. Every day, or so it feels.
And. A volcano erupted in Iceland. Snowstorms swept across Europe. Healthcare Reform passed in the USA and a President was re-elected. The Help, The Artist, The Hunger Games, Inception, Gone Girl came to the cinema. And books, so many books I’ve read. Marriage Equality passed.
I have been collecting old cookbooks and buying new ones written by friends. I bake. Bûches de noël and Saint-Honoré and macarons and choux. Galettes des rois and bread. I’ve made gözleme and poulet yassa and kefta and goulash. Trial and error. And joy. And a niece became a nephew, a sister divorced, mom retired, fell in love with and formed a most unlikely team with a small dog named Buster and is now, a few years later, living in a luxury assisted-living complex and is having the time of her life. And we are selling her house, our childhood home, which makes me sad, leaves me empty, like an orphan, like a bit of me is slipping away. And Buster…. Buster is thriving.
And we have grown older, so much older. At this stage in our lives, the years slip by so quickly and the weight of those years shows in a scattering of lines, streaks of gray in our hair. We have just a bit more trouble getting out of bed in the morning, standing up straight, running upstairs. Unexpected changes that surprised us suddenly one morning. That is the price we pay to see our babies grow into men, hug them when we can, be proud of who they have become.
And, dear Michael, you have missed it all.
I spent a lifetime talking with you, discussing the boys, my life, my work, and yours. Life changes, life choices. And movies and books, restaurants and recipes, politics and family. Gossip, jokes, debates, advice, recommendations. We had grown and grown up together and what you taught me, shared with me, instilled in me has been priceless. You were always, from the day I was brought home from the hospital, the best, the ideal big brother. And since you have been gone, I have spent a lifetime wondering what you would you think about this or about that, what you would say, what you would teach me. Imagining your laughter. Since you have been gone, I have craved nothing more than wishing you could see the boys, see what they have become. Shared my tragedies, shared my successes.
Six years is a long time, an eternity. Six years is a very long time when one lives six years with heartache, a broken soul. I am half of myself without you.
Michael S Schler April 9, 1957 – September 15, 2009