Everyone’s here. That’s the feeling I kept having, this pulsing sensation of joy that everyone’s here. It was a late summer picnic, people were wearing shorts and there were stop-traffic legs but also regular-old legs. I say that to indicate the qualities of handsome and plain were still a part of the picture. Speaking of legs, there were all these vets whose legs had been stolen in their earthly service and lo and behold their legs had all been returned and man they were running around chasing each other like boys, grinning like soldiers at ease, while their dear mothers stood with tears in their eyes and hands on their hips saying Now wouldja just look at that. Suddenly I thought Damn, there won’t be enough food for everyone and then a young lady I’d adored as a boy cleared her throat and pointed to a circle of children nearby but it was clear to me her concern was not with the word Damn but with my language of scarcity. She said John, there’s so much here, you simply have no idea of the abundance. All my family and friends were there, plus the famous people I’ve followed over the years like Johnny and June Carter and Philip Seymour Hoffman (he looked brighter, happy). But there were also people there I wouldn’t have invited to my picnic. Nothing was necessarily wrong with them, they just weren’t the people I’d choose to invite. But yet there they were, and when I saw their faces I could not help but feel a gatheirng tenderness toward them so I walked over and shook hands, gave a few of them hugs, and was surprised to hear myself keep saying I’m so glad you’re here. Then one of them, an older man who shot himself when I was a young preacher, said I’m so glad you’re here too. It was then I began to weep because I could see it was not my picnic. I was an invited guest. And with God as my witness that was such a gorgeous thought because I’m a first-born who usually tries to ensure everyone’s having a good time at the party but there in that next place I could tell we were all free at last to lay down every role real or perceived, every burden great or small. Everyone was there, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. And I remembered the line from a poem I underlined one quiet February evening as a man: we were laved in the eternal light of talk after dinner. Was this a dream? Yes. And it was so very beautiful.