Eleven abreast around a modest table on a newly expanded, (still modest) balcony.
The mood was reserved.
Many at the table had attended a sad and difficult funeral that day. A young man, and very close friend of the family, had taken his own life.
Too young, too soon.
We came together, moving through the perfunctory moments of tragically contrived reunions.
“How are you?”
“How’s work been?”
“Been anywhere interesting lately?”
Nibbles sat half-eaten. Drinks stood luke-warm, squeezing baubles of sweat in a come-hither Summer night.
And then? Dinner was served. Simple fare and a family favourite (surely across the Nation?).
The pot was large, heavy and steaming, thick with hearty flavour and tomato-ey goodness. The pasta mixed haphazardly with viscous olive oil.
We piled up our plates. Fork swirling, linguine flicking awkwardly at the last moment, smacking the sides of our faces to leave a smeary mess.
We smiled. Experience shared.
Soon, the stories flowed. Memories pulled out from the archives.
“Remember when we went on that Ghost Train? Remember how terrified we were?! And.. and, remember how Gran stood on the carriage and swore at the ghosts and baddies and told them to stop scaring her grand-babies?”
We laughed. Slowly at first. And then in a torrent. Loud and raucous and healing in volume.
We laughed and we laughed. Even in the face of death.
And we realised, it’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay.