Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Cats who Shared the Canary

Jean and Matt on their honeymoon, March 1998,
just after arriving in Jerusalem

Reproduced by taking a photo of a framed original due
to the  digital photography/Photoshop expertise of Anne Lewis.  Thanks!
Many visitors to Jean's room at the Zen Hospice have commented on the photo, reproduced above, and which offline is clear, handsomely framed, and prominently displayed.  The attraction is probably its visual response to the question everybody asks about all couples: why are these two people together?  Draped over each other in happy exhaustion, smiling like we'd just pulled off the caper of the century, the answer I read is: we enjoy each other shamelessly.

That is "enjoy," ongoing, not "enjoyed," as in the good old days.  At the time of the photo, our conceit was we fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. Fifteen years later, we still fit, although the puzzle posed by life-threatening illness differs.  Or perhaps we're so intertwined the metaphor of edges snapping together does not entirely make sense.  William Carlos Williams has a poem about the long married, comparing us to ivy and an old brick wall, where you no longer know where one ends and the other begins, and who is supporting whom.  We're a bit like that.

Looking closely at the photo, I see Jean casually yet stylishly dressed, in a pose that is somehow both relaxed and dynamic.  The smile on her face is warm, sensual, content, curious, all that in generous doses.  Heartbreakingly beautiful, enduringly Jean.