We didn’t see our last dinner coming. 

Just before the pandemic hit, my sister, Karyn, a.k.a “Ponts” and her family left for a short stint in New Zealand for her husband’s work.

Six weeks turned into six months. Come fall, they sold their Vineyard house with plans to stay halfway around the world indefinitely. I hold onto hope, but some days, driving by their old screened porch where we shared so many good meals brings me to tears. 
Thankfully, in my dreams we still have our weekly family dinners. It’s the eight of us. Sometimes on that screened porch. Other times on a beach, a sailboat, a deck. Place doesn’t matter. Those hard-to-source ingredients like connection, warmth and goodwill always are there. Together, we make something delicious.  
Even on holidays, our menu barely changes. We start with a cheeseboard. Sliced crisp apples, shaved Manchego, salty rice crackers, toasted almonds, juicy dates, the remains of whatever needs to get gone. Ponts' husband, Max, swoons every time. “This is just amazing! You make the very best appy’s!”  

While the grill heats and our four kiddos play, my sister and I linger in the kitchen chopping onions for burgers and mixing the maple garlic salad dressing. We catch up, commiserate, and carouse. We’re present to the miracle of being together in the cooking and caring for our families. We marvel at how our lives have synchronized. Our children are almost the same ages. We live a mere twelve minutes apart. At home in each other’s spaces, Ponts knows where our Grandma Rosie’s wineglasses are and I know what goes in her compost.  
Our husbands hang at the grill talking about travel, surf, business and current events. The kids flash-appear during our kitchen conferences, sometimes playing spy games. We surprise them, squeeze them, tickle them. When they come crying, we give hugs; when they come dancing, we boogie, too.   
Mix up any combo of this group of eight and there’s a match; someone we’d love to spend a day with. We have enough common interests to last a lifetime. It’s a true love zone.     
During our imagined dinners, Ponts and I act on our devotion to zero waste with cloth napkins and reminders to eat what’s been selected. Our husbands and kids roll their eyes on cue but oblige.  
The most fun person to tease is Ponts. I’ll break out a line, “Did I ever tell you about the time your mom . . .” Her family eats it up along with their hand-cut fries. 
I remember toasting to Ponts at her rehearsal dinner at a waterfront porch in Aquinnah, saying that Ponts was like a fun-enhancer. Add her to any errand, vacation, event and the fun fireworks explode. With Ponts, even the cleanup is a treat. Back in our kitchen hideaway, we gossip while wiping counters and washing glasses. If there’s been enough wine, we may bust out the ridiculous accents we invented years ago or Ponts might make her signature horse-face. Conversations range from family updates to new superfoods to good books; all subjects with Ponts interest me.    
The tricky part is dessert. If Ponts made it, it’s horrible, a paleo disaster of almonds, raisins and rice flour that never quite rises, congeals or sweetens. The best part of her desserts is the chance to heckle the heck out of her again. It’s seven against one. Our go-to move is either coconut ice creams or (my) homemade ice pops. Another happy ending.   
It’s all so easy.

And all - at least for now - so very, heart-breakingly unreal. Just the vapor trails of memory, and visions of hope for once again soon.


Moira Convey Silva is a writer, instructor and consultant who lives in West Tisbury. To learn more about her course offerings, including “Meals, Memories & More,” please visit moiraconveysilva.com. One of the things Moira is loving most about post covid life is the chance to feed her friends and family again.