November Wedding [Extract]

The reception was not a large gathering. The groom’s parents, our friends and neighbours here, and Matthew’s younger brothers, successful businessmen with their families, clannish and boisterous.

I noticed that, in spite of the bride’s beauty and youth, and Matthew’s elegant sisters-in-law, it was still my wife, Miriam, on whom every glance lingered. To see her today, no longer in the context of our home but in another place, talking with others, was to see her as I did that first time, yet with the knowledge in my mind of all that happened later — two different, alternative lives playing out in my mind. She had something of the Mediterranean in her face then, a deep intensity in her look, but an English innocence too, as if dusk and dawn could be combined together in one portrait. I have an early likeness of her at that time, here still in my desk …

I had no plans to marry, my career lay comfortable and predictable before me; but seeds beneath the dry sands can be awakened with rain after thirty years, and so it was with me. And in spite of all that happened, and even now, so many years later, the feelings in my heart have not changed or diminished.

She wore something in blue today, not elaborate, but with a hat of the same colour which, slanted above her eyes, was still striking to me, as if she was not my wife of more than thirty years, and with the same effect upon me, similar to pain. She was always able to startle with the simplest of means.

Who is it I see now? She has grey hair, not dark. The years translate us into something different, yet we know with certainty we are the same. I do not see the weight of time and experience around her like a cloud, or gathered like shadows on the wall behind her. I do not see a face and figure as the artist Picasso might have painted them, showing all aspects and all times. If I called to her and she came towards me, or I to her, there is no crater in the ground between us into which we might fall.

From November Wedding