They have been together for 68 years and that isn't long enough according to my mother. During this time three daughters were born, the daughters married, had babies, divorced, remarried, one died in the full bloom of her life with a young child left to remind us of all we had lost and to help us heal. He had a number of health issues, mainly depression and she decided that if you were determined enough to be happy and healthy and busy, you would never die. The youngest went far down, close to the edge but found a way to live again and her son, her writing and teaching convinced her that life was a series of wonders, miracles, coincidences and mainly love affairs with nature, books, babies and finally in her third marriage, a husband who made all that came before logical in that it wasn't.
And still, they went on, married at twenty, three children, a phd and a masters in architecture, graduates of Harvard, such beauty and brains and wit and creativity. He wrote many brilliant novels and critical works and she designed houses and each time they lived abroad, England, Ireland, England again, she packed their lives for a year into a trunk and they sailed across the Atlantic blessed with beauty, brains and youth, the girls like three graces, the parents perfectly matched except when he raged like a Eugene O'Neil character and she threw it into his face that he had disappointed her in some mysterious way. The youngest daughter kneeled in the unheated attic and prayed to a force she had been told didn't exist, that they would be happy again, that the screaming would stop, that they would remember no one else mattered but the
The youngest was bullied in the English school but told no one. She rode the bus to Piccadilly Circus until the bus driver finally told her there was no circus just a turn-around but she pretended she already knew that. She knew nothing- nothing of love or how people asked for help because she was supposed to know everything. She didn't understand that they would cry for help and after they drained her of hope they would rediscover the miracle of their marriage and wealth and she would return to her writing and remember not time, infidelity, the death of their child, disappointment, age, would ever separate them.
She stands in the half light watching them sleep, side by side. When she was a baby they watched her as she breathed, that small chest rising and falling, nothing more beautiful than your child at peace. Now she feels her older bones, the ache of muscle, the memory of swimming across so many lakes, diving into waves, lithe and sleek as a seal, unafraid, eyes wide open to everything and she lets them sleep because this is no longer her dream. Their eyelids flutter, dreams of the past, memories of that long lost daughter, golden haired, first born, so much beauty, so long ago.