I ended up writing a letter-poem to Carol
for her memorial:
Just to let you know
there’s a party tonight at the end of the street,
and we’re going to eat pie and drink wine.
Lots of both, I’d guess.
And this time, no one’s going to ask you to bring a salad.
There’s a rumor of music, I wouldn’t rule out dancing,
and we certainly expect rain.
But the truth is, we’re going to talk about you –
thought you’d want to know. I intend to tell
how we shared a single electric mixer
which traveled back and forth between houses for years
for want of either of us shelling out $15 for our own.
That you always offered to iron tablecloths when I had a party.
That you not once let me do the dishes at your house.
And I’m certain I still owe you at least one cup each of flour, sugar, milk.
How the two of us had an agreement
to call each other in the event of a rainbow.
That, one warm summer twilight you called
to say that your cat was leaping vertically
at insects on the lawn across the street.
How you loved my mom’s recipe for yellow cake.
I might mention that Nora once wrote
“Happy St. Mother’s Day” in chalk on the sidewalk
and that I’ve always coveted the opal earrings
Devin gave you one year for Christmas.
I know I’ll mention that you were a second mother to my sons.
That you and Tom were the best couple I’ve known,
and an inspiration in my own second chance.
You believed in the magic of everyday things:
a walk around Seward Park, a glass of pinot noir,
a single blossom cut from the rose bush in your yard.
Dear Carol, we miss you here on Brandon Street.
We’re doing the best we can, all things considered.
I really wanted to run this all by you before I read it,
wanted to call you, to talk things over –
an inclination I know will not diminish any time soon.
But because that is no longer possible,
I decided instead to read aloud the following quote
which I keep coming back to when I think of you
and the good cheer, wit & joy you offered to everyone in your life:
Rules One and Two, by Brendan Gill, from The New Yorker
"Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the argument that life is serious, though it is often hard and even terrible. Since everything ends badly for us, in the inescapable catastrophe of death, it seems obvious that the first rule of life is to have a good time, and that the second rule of life is to hurt as few people as possible in the course of doing so. There is no third rule."
Carol, here’s to you, your family, your friends,
and to as many good times as possible.