My Dearest Mimi,
I open this letter with all the sentiments that I closed my last — but doubled. I wish you: strength, courage, empathy, insight, understanding, wisdom and the power to go on.
But I would also like to remind you of the number 267, that marked your stay with Brian on Mariehamn Island — 267, your number and his. For me and others, we might say 8 as a number or 10, maybe a dozen, probably less, but you, together, lived 10 lifetimes or more in comparison — and such bright, full lifetimes. Consequently, I would like to say at this awful time of grief, please notice that grief comes in more than one form. There is the grief based on lives lived too small — on regret, that is. And there is grief base on joy so great and full that you naturally want more, which is a far, far cry from regret. And that is your grief — a grief of fullness not of emptiness, not of lacking. It means you MADE each others lives — happy, ecstatic lives based on the kind of love few ever experience. It means you have memories, landmarks of the heart that together you constructed. It means your grief is rich, not meager. I am so, so sorry, but please look around at “the palace of the heart” that you built — and go there, when you need to rest. Now though, stay busy, and please let those around you help.
To make what I am saying clearer, I send the following poem that I wrote for the two of you:
One swoops into a perfect swan;
Another does not —
The sound of the dive,
That is in fact more of a fall,
Enters us through hearing, seeing,
Shakes and rattles us
Like stiffened useless papers.
One, hands high as if in praise,
Turns a somersault;
Another, turns a double;
Corkscrews come from the sides,
Toward left and right;
Backwards is another way
But higher than its beginning.
The board thrums with whatever lift they can bring to it,
Then waits still for the next.
They all go down.
They all are swallowed into ending,
But it is the way they go,
That trip of seconds that they trained years to complete.
It is for that,
That handful of instants that they’ve lived:
Perfect in their drop,
A kind of graceful flight.
The divers are all lined up:
Gravity? A fall?
Or something more than gravity can know,
In that thing
That happens to us all?
Mimi, my broken heart is with you as are so many others. Make something of them — all those hearts. and go on knowing that you have known love and that it will accompany you always.
With deepest sympathy,