the morning after

It is the morning after Ben’s graduation and the little ‘fiesta’ held here at the house for him.   A small but substantial group of Ben devotees, Ben’s friend Olivia, his father and me, his Nana & Papa, family friends Lily, Jay & Pam and our housemate Luca all gathered on the porch before graduation for food and drink and then again for more food and drink after the wonderful ceremony.  I am now looking at all the washed dishes that have held the energy of celebration and love and nourishment of the day shared and enjoyed together….

…the colorful pottery bowls of all sizes and the stack of fiesta ware style plates still communicating with each other with animation of the fun of being together in Ben’s honor.  Evoking the images of the simple fare; grilled sausages and veggie burgers by Papa on my new spiffy gas grill (that Papa spent all day assembling), the leftovers of the beloved mac and cheese made by Nana, a big fresh green salad, and a roasted beet & walnut salad that has a little of something for everyone, chopped roasted beets (3-1/2 – 4 cups), chopped fresh apples (2 cups), chopped walnuts (1/2 cup), and handfuls of chopped fresh green onions, parsley, lemon balm & mint from the garden, all mixed together with a dressing of oil (1/4 cup walnut or grapeseed), fresh lemon juice (2 Tbsp.), tamari (2 tsp.), honey (2 tsp.), and cinnamon (1/2 tsp.).  Now the morning after, all that is left to find is a small bowl of this delicious and colorful beet salad.

And as I scan through all the images of the evening still fresh in my mind, I think of the same beet color cap and gown that Ben wears for the ceremony, and the countless photos taken with friends after, this one with his 6th grade teacher Mr. MacNamara, (better known as Mr. Mac!), feeling and seeing how confident and happy Ben is in this moment…

And another with friends Molly & Jason, all sharing school together since Kindergarten and Ben and Jason being on the same rec league basketball team for years…

And of course there is one with the ‘girls’, Sakshi in the middle, a long time Ben friend since elementary school as well, and Laura, with whom he has shared countless years of swim practice and swim meets together….

And then my most favorite image of Ben comes to mind, post graduation ceremony, back home and sitting on the couch looking so mature and handsome, surrounded by those that love him so, engaged and smiling and watching everyone around him, quietly knowing he is the center of attention as everyone enjoys the evening.  It is an enduring image that contains the energy of what is next for Ben as he continues to inspire us all…

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