The Sadness of Absence

There were warning signs yesterday.  Twice I stood on the Zuivelbrug, the bridge over the Leie near my home … and there were no seagulls.

I love watching them fly, especially when they soar unflappably.  But where were my friends yesterday?

I think of a quote I love:

If you love something, set it free

If it comes back, it’s yours

If it doesn’t, it never was

Those words have rung true down the years, with friends romantic and not.  So often I’ve felt the need to grab on and hold tight.  That would be squeezing the life out of them. 


And so it is with the gulls.  Often I sit on my back terrace and watch for the wings above.  If you look at the photo, see if you can enlarge it.  Look through the willow and you’ll see a slanted roof.  I’m on the other side of the slant – facing the river but not seeing it.


The glassed building is the Ghent River Hotel.  Below the circular openings in the brick is the Leie.

I feel the yearning to unite with the birds, to be one with them.  To feel the lift below my wings.  To smile into the wind.  To dip and dive with the touch of a feather.

I was frantic as the sun descended yesterday.  Clutching with all my might.  I had a Zoom call at 7:30 and I sat rigid on my terrace as the time approached.  “Seagulls!  Now!”

O the error of my ways …

After the call, the darkness was full.  In my intensity of need, I decided to go to bed early and get up before sunrise, when the gulls fly left to right down the Leie.

And so I did.  In my robe, down jacket and slippers I sat on the terrace as pink filled the bottom of the sky.  I waited … No one came but the pigeons.

And then, right over my head (!) a blurred whiteness zoomed.  I caught the wingtips as the gull disappeared beyond the rooftop.

My reaction was instant.  It was a non-sexual orgasm, a jolt, a shudder.  My friend!

And what if tomorrow is friendless?  I would be sad but the vision of the long wings would remain.

And true companions reappear

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