About three months after Marilyn’s garden hosted her wedding to Douglas with flowers, friends, and food, it hosted a celebration of life with leaves tinged in gold. The friends and food, they were there again, too.
Kassandra, who had felt so uncomfortable at the wedding, was unaccountably at ease at the celebration of Marilyn’s life. She arrived a bit early, helped with the final set up, and served drinks to one and all.
Allison had not attended the wedding, but as a neighbor she was drawn to the garden for this mournful celebration. She ventured to make a pie full of early-season apples and piles of cinnamon, and laid it on the dessert table, wondering what on earth her professors would think of this domestic effort. She accepted a cup of coffee from Kassandra, handing them out with compassionate murmurings and sad smiles, and found a chair to sit on. It just so happened to be the corner that Franny had used as her refuge during the wedding.
Douglas hosted, offering meaningful words for everyone. He started the recitation of memories of Marilyn with a story of their early romantic tryst and failure that made everyone laugh, and broke the ice so that one at a time, those in attendance felt free to stand and share their own stories of the art professor.
Penelope was there, oddly sober (both in her mood and the lack of alcohol in her bloodstream), and could not complete her story of meeting Marilyn at the university, due to breaking down into very dramatic tears. Franny could not help but compare this performance with Penelope’s birthday party, which was far more soaked in wine, but just as dramatic.
Leo played Marilyn’s favorite song on his guitar: Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Everyone sang along, and cried, and laughed, and applauded. Then, he played a song he’d written back when he and Marilyn first met. It was a simple tune about love and loss, and everyone listened in hushed sorrow.
It appeared everyone who wanted to speak had done so, and Franny had still not risen from her seat next to Douglas. He turned to her, raising his eyebrows, a silent invitation.
Franny had a poem she’d written in honor of Marilyn, but when she stood to speak, she changed her mind about reading it.
“Marilyn would hate the poem I wrote,” she began, as the gathered friends chuckled. “It was sappy, and full of sentiment, and Marilyn was anything but that.”