funerals and majorca
I have never been to Majorca. But I am perfectly “prepared to be hypnotized,” as the New York Times says, “by ancient terraced landscapes, tiny medieval villages and extraordinary food.” This is what I thought about when we were at a sad funeral on Saturday, the father of a friend of my son, who was only 62 when he died. The first time I met Jerry, he was coming down the stairs of his house carrying a box of what I now know were very expensive old comic books to ship to some wealthy collector. He was startled to see me even though I had just phoned to say I was bringing my son over to play with his son– was this a good time? I think he had already forgotten our call. At first, I was a little alarmed: should I leave my son under his spacey jurisdiction. But right before I left, I looked up the stairs and saw a huge gorgeous wild painting and gasped. Who did that painting? I asked. Jerry looked modest, but only for a moment. He had done that painting. He was an artist, he said. Or he used to be. He would get back to it. Come on up and see more, he said. And suddenly I was on what his sons call “The Grand Tour.” Hallways of art: more of his own work and a collection of the original paintings which were used for the covers of famous sci fi books and movie posters. Shelves and shelves of first edition sci fi paper backs. He had just written a book on his dear friend and mentor Ray Bradbury. By the time I left the house, he had collected another fan, one among many from the looks of the packed unitarian memorial service on Saturday. By the time Jerry died, I knew he was a famous collector. He had started a little comic shop in Cambridge, The Million Year Picnic, which it turns out, is the favorite shop of many of my friends. He moved up to New York City from Wichita, Kansas, then to Boston, started and then sold The Picnic, got hired at Sotheby’s to be their comic expert and fell in love with the woman who hired him, Dana, whose grace and pragmatism were/are a perfect balance to his sci fi self. When they were first in love, they went to Majorca and, as one of his friends said, he thinks that this is where Jerry might be forever, dancing cheek to cheek with Dana on the patio overlooking the Mediterranean. I was struck by this. I looked over at my partner who also loved Jerry, and was clearly deeply moved by the stories we were hearing, and was, in fact, holding my hand and displaying the sensitivity and humor I had fallen in love with once upon a time, and suddenly felt he was inadequate. How come he (the partner) had not taken me to Majorca? How come he wasn’t a friend of Ray Bradbury? My poor lovely partner continued to squeeze my hand while I fought what my old rabbi used to call my bad angel. This was not the right way to sit in this funeral. I had spent the first part of the afternoon being inspired and trying not to cry (I must value every moment! I must try to drink more wine with more friends! I must try to find joy everywhere! I must travel! Make art! Play hoops! Love my son and Be Nice to him every moment of every day!), but now here I was, not filled with love, joy, and creativity, but filled with disappointment, resentment and other unpleasant things. However, afterwards, when I confessed this to some friends, they said they had felt the same way. And then we looked at each other. We still have our husbands (partners). Dana has lost hers. Maybe this was our way of entering her grief, getting a little taste of what it was like to be loved by Jerry, and then to lose him.