My sister-in-law was in town with her children to attend a family wedding this weekend. The groom was a nephew, a boy by many measures and yet man enough to enlist in the Army and get married.
He arrived in his Army greens, the brass on his lapels shining almost as much as his shaved head. Everyone thought he looked more handsome and healthier than ever before. I asked him about his assignment in Colorado. He said it was okay, but he fully expected to be "downrange" within a year or two. I immediately understood what he meant, and I was surprised with how easily he spoke of it.
His bride was a slim young girl wrapped elegantly in a beaded white gown, shoulder-less to reveal her tattoos. She had a scorpion on her shoulder blade, and it occurred to me that my soldier nephew might just enjoy a few months with his new bride before having to encounter the real thing in Iraq or Afghanistan. It was a happy occasion trimmed with somber realization.
Earlier that day I had taken my own Precious Daughter and two of her little cousins to City Park. We tried out all the features of the playground, then took our skills to conquer the trees. Ancient, heavy trees. The park is loaded with oak trees, many which might recall the distant sounds of battle when General Jackson turned back the British, and when gunboats steamed up the river during the Civil War.
"This tree is falling down," said one of the children happily as he walked on a branch that stretched horizontally along the ground almost as far as it reached up to the sky. "Gravity eventually overcomes all of us," I said to my own amusement. My response neither informed nor interested him and he continued to explore the ancient oak on his own terms.
The heat eventually drove us toward the old casino building where we found food and drinks and ice cream. My Precious Daughter said it had been closed since Katrina, but was glad to find it recently reopened. Almost three years it had been closed. Three years since the hurricane and flood had soaked our city.
An old song tells us "you don't know what you got till it's gone." That's a true enough observation that I'm sure applies anywhere. But here in New Orleans, where the loss is still so real and present, I'd like to think we know better than anyone what we have. And I hope we can appreciate what we have. I know I'm trying.