I missed them. Usually they are there before I arrive but today the terrace was empty. Sunday. Could it be church? I don’t recall them not being here on Sundays. Was there a special religous holiday? A historical Catalan event to be celebrated? Or were they gathered elsewhere, drinking coffee and exchanging the latest local news? Celebrating somebodies birthday? Welcoming a new child? I hope it wasn’t a funeral. It wasn’t out of the question. It never is anyway, but some of those ladies must be close to 90.
There was a young woman sitting at one of the other tables. She was skyping on her phone, talking loudly in Turkish. First to a young man, then to an old woman. She sounded as if she was crying - not the young woman, the old one - but it could also just be her voice. Every few sentences she ended with “insjallah”. The young woman answered all her questions, comforted her, laughed, held her phone up and showed her where she was sitting. They talked forever. And when the voice on the other side had gone she turned on some music. Cheerful and melancholic at the same time. The way she felt. And when the song was finished she left.
I stayed. The sun had come out. I started and finished Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. It shouldn’t be read in haste and I didn’t but I read single letters so many times off and on that it was nice to float through it from beginning to end. When I checked Facebook I was reminded of the birthday of a friend. It is his 30st birthday today. But he died almost 2 years ago. His Facebook page is still active. Some of his friends left a message. “Until we meet again.”
I don’t think we will meet again. But he is keeping me company, just like all the other friends who aren’t here anymore. It is the saddest thing, that death teaches you most about life. And about love, which is just as difficult, according to Rilke: “ …. as for death, which is difficult, no explanation, no solution, has yet been discovered for love, which is difficult too: there are no directions, no path. And for these two problems that we carry around with us in a sealed packet and hand on without opening, it will always be impossible to locate a common rule, resting on consensus. But to the same extent that we begin as individuals to venture onto life, these great things will encounter us, on our own, at ever closer quarters.”