First, with a sympathetic aching in my bones, I recognized their exhaustion. These people are so worn out they have no energy or words to share; they just stare blankly ahead as they eat. Yet though they hardly make eye contact with each other, it is not an awkward silence, but one of camaraderie: they fought each other and settled their differences, and they fought the enemy and won, and there’s nothing they need to say to each other. After the harrows of a battle in which they were certain they’d lost a member of their team, simply being together is enough.
Second, the scene eloquently conveys the reality of coping with life after tragedy. In the wake of loss or trauma eating is one of the simple necessities that force us to process that life does indeed go on. So, the heroes' work accomplished, they sit and mechanically put food in their mouths and chew, because it's simply the next thing that has to be done, just as in the background the hardy New Yorkers slowly, silently, stoically go about cleaning up their little shop, because there's nothing else for them to do; they must repair their restaurant and carry on if they are to survive.
However this is more than just an animal stuffing of the face. As The Finder Walter Sherman says, “Food only becomes a meal when you share it with people.” This is a meal that was planned in advance and followed through with; it is a gathering of friends and battle companions, a last supper before they part ways to meet other responsibilities, and watching it I couldn’t help but think of the song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” That eloquent expression of loss is all the more poignant for its simplicity. To me that song has almost no equal in expressing grief. My whole life the table has been a place of special importance. Growing up my parents insisted on a family dinner almost every night, and from mock trial team meetings at Steak N’ Shake to cooking over a camp fire in the back woods, from hosting dinners for international students at my house to having my best friends over for a grill out in the back yard, many of my best memories from high school and college are from times of fellowship over food.
So as I listen to the song of mourning, and whisper the words along with Redmayne, I cry with him too, as I feel the absence of my friends and family living afar and of those no longer living on this mortal plane. Quietly but ardently I long for that glorious moment when, after having fought the good fight, after the battle to end all battles is finished, after all wrongs have been set right, I can sit with my brethren, my friends, and family, at the wedding feast of the Lamb, and share a meal unlike any other: a meal filled with the untarnished joy of seeing around me the faces of all those whose absence I currently feel so keenly.
So, to all you distant folks: Next year in Jerusalem!