One of the benefits of a sound cry is a sound sleep, which held true until about 4:30 AM, after which the eyelid demons pinned themselves open, and all was lost. At least in terms of sleep. As for the sound cry, well, perhaps not sound enough. Mind you, my sister had prepared me rather well for this. The strange effects of Oscar Hammerstein, and I must principally credit him, though the ur-melodies of Richard Rodgers do get under the skin, any skin, any epoque. Even done by amateurs in a pokey little theater in San Jose, getting off to a very weak start with Mrs. Mullins, the merry-go-round’s owner, unable to act her way out of a paper bag…the audience, in fact, hoping that one would descend over her head…but nonetheless it was all there in spirit, with a fine orchestra and singers…Carousel. And my sister’s warning about how she lost it, her phrase, watching the British version imported by the National Theatre in the mid-1990s, though, I had not paid much attention to her story at the time.
But almost as soon as the lights went down and the sad tale of Liliom begins to unfold, so did I. First sniffling, then tearing, and crying as softly as one could reasonably manage through both acts. Reasonably composed for the intermission, a chat with Jane and our friends outside in the matinee air of early spring, then back to the story and the music and more crying. Liliom being a powerful tale well rooted in Hungarian culture. Whatever. It’s the other tale, the one triggered by Marlou’s death anniversary, just days away.
The real nature of which is only half conscious. That the reminder is unspeakably sad, that much I know. But how it is sad, in one particular way, and how it creeps up on me, all of this seems unclear. It doesn’t matter. That is the thing. The tears come. They falleth as the gentle rain and must be welcomed. And why Carousel? Why not? A tale of love and loss, with the lyric sense of the continuance of things. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to sit and cry. It’s that time of year.
Which has me wandering out to the spinach at regular intervals. Harvest time almost. Who knows what these are? Particularly the fast-growing ones with the red stems. All that the local garden center had at a particular moment. And now it’s another moment, the red-stemmed spinach with the triangular leaves squeezing out the more sensible variety. Marlou’s ashes feeding them all. And another year, followed by another, although one cannot say. Crying for Marlou and her suffering, and for me and for having a caring human ripped from my life, her life, all life…too young, too soon, although all such rendings feel the same now.
At home, Jane gone for a routine night with her own daughter in her own condominium, I feel more solid and aware of my life than in some time. No abandonment, Jane returning in the morning, and when some excess of lights, office heater and computer pushes my 55-year-old wiring over the brink, a circuit breaker darkening half of my apartment, I know what to do. Alert Jane that conditions are what they are, no rescue required, but no e-mail either. Then retire, hall light on, which I used to request as a little boy. For I know there are lights around. My wheelchairs, and I have three, are well supplied with headlights. Electrical circuit to the thermostat is working well. And it is almost April. Just not that cold at night anymore. I will survive.
I will also wake up at 4:30 AM. How do I know it is this hour, the bedside clock being off along with the lights? Well, I don’t, until the 5:09 AM Caltrain roars past. It is awfully early, and I have plenty of time, certainly time for more sleep. But there will be none. It is a mystery, what underlies the grief experience. I thrash until 6:30 AM, get up. And there is the day.