Saturday, September 12, 1998 ( Henry is 35, Clare is 28)
“HENRY: Lucille was the one who loved the garden. When we came to visit, Clare would walk through the front door of the Meadowlark House and straight out the back door to find Lucille, who was almost always in the garden, rain or shine. When she was well we would find her kneeling in the beds, weeding or moving plants, or feeding the roses. When she was ill Etta and Phillip would bring her downstairs wrapped in quilts seat her in a wicker chair, sometimes by the fountain, sometimes under the pear tree where she could see Peter working, digging and pruning and grafting. When Lucille was well she would regale us with the doings of the garden: the red-headed finches who had finally discovered the new feeder, the dahlias that had done better than expected over by the sun dial, the new rose that turned out to be a horrible shade of lavender but was so vigorous that she was loathe to get rid of it. One summer Lucille and Alicia conducted an experiment: Alicia spent several hours each day practicing the cello in the garden, to see if the plants would respond to the music. Lucille swore that her tomatoes had never been so plentiful, and she showed us a zucchini that was the size of my thigh. So the experiment was deemed a success, but was never repeated because it was the last summer Lucille was well enough to garden.
Lucille waxed and waned with the seasons, like a plant. In the summer, when we all showed up, Lucille would rally, and the house rang with the happy shouts of Mark and Sharon’s children who tumbled like puppies in the fountain and cavorted sticky and ebullient on the lawn. Lucille was often grimy but always elegant. She would rise to greet us, her white and copper hair in a thick coil with fat strands straggling to her face, white kidskin gardening gloves and Smith & Hawken tools thrown down as she recieved our hugs. Lucille and I always kissed very formally, on both cheeks, as though we were very old french countresses who hadn’t seen each other in while. She was never less than kind to me, although she could devestate her daughter with a glance. I miss her. Clare … well, ‘Miss’ is inadequate. Clare is bereft. Clare walks into rooms and forgets why she’s there. Clare sits staring at a book without turning a page for an hour. But she doesn’t cry. Clare smiles if I make a joke. Clare eats what I put in front of her. If I try to make love to her, Clare will go along with it … and soon I leave her alone, afraid of docile, tearless face that seems to be miles away. I miss Lucille, but it is Clare that I am bereft of, Clare who has gone away and left me with this stranger who only looks like Clare.”
It’s not that I believe everything happens for a reason, I just think some things are meant to be broken, imperfect, chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There has to be a few holes in the road. That’s how life is. If everything was smooth and perfect, you’d get too used to that, you know? You have to have a little disorganization now and then. Otherwise, you’ll never really enjoy it when things go right.
Do you know why people hate to admit they are lonely? It’s because when you do, everyone thinks that something is wrong with you. They think “I have people in my life, why don’t you?” But the strange thing is, you can have people in your life and still be alone.
I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And what do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.