March was a deuce of a stretch, given the passing of Polly's mother and the financial evisceration of her father's automotive dealership. When the going gets tough the marginal go bust, and her family was put to the screws. Without health insurance her dear mum's emphysema went without the finest care, and without unapologetic cardiac patients sporting Greg Norman and raspberry noses her father could not move a Buick Lucerne to save his soul.
She is trebly distraught, and I am grateful that she has finally found sleep in the other room. No doubt the tortuous closing flits of her mind's final conscious eye were a pastiche of overcranked reels of father and matron holding her precious form in various small back yards...of steadily-reddening Kodachrome snapshots taken at the very moment her apple cheeks expelled their birthday cake candle-puff.
It is one of the true jukes of life that as we go on we feel terrible loss at the memory of a childhood passed—even if it were another's, and a happy one. I cannot help but feel a sting in my eye at the idea of her littler self playing in innocence and joy in a favorite dress, trusting in the permanence of family and home and the very earth, truly enjoying Christmas for its scented cookies and unguessable treasures. That the fresh sheets, bedside lamp, and fluffed pillow which once helped her sleep have long since been thrown in the landfill and buried under mountains of busted screen doors and moldering cantaloupes...these realizations are hard markers along the many lanes in which we honk and shuffle toward the grave.
She herself might not feel the loss of such particular times, but I feel it for her. Call it love, or call it selfishness, or call it a finger of the essence of the pear amplifying both. I'd prepare a bouquet from the garden for her bedside table but she'd know I'd been up fretting. She's canny like that.
Oh, time to get on with it. One can't stew and wallow in these pools of nostalgic regret all night; where would that leave a man? Firmly without his evening intake of Waugh or Nat Sherman, that's where—and that is no wind-swept jetty upon which any fellow should ever find himself.