Franny breathed in deeply. Standing in front of a group of people all trying hard to celebrate the life of a dear friend, when they also needed to mourn, made her dizzy. She let out the breath, and continued.
“Marilyn was not sentimental. She was sharp. Her mind, her intellect, always led her. She took me in as a friend, and I still do not know why. I have no sharpness about me. I’m led by, I don’t know, not my mind and not really my heart, either. I’m led by guilt, I guess, and fear, but when I was with Marilyn, on a walk around this neighborhood, watching Precious find the next best place to pee, I never felt afraid. Marilyn’s gift to me was to make me see myself the way she saw me. I guess that’s what we all try to give to each other, and most of us, maybe we aren’t so successful. But Marilyn could do it.
“In her eyes, I had so much to offer. She saw that I could write, and she encouraged it, but not in a sappy way. Her encouragement was always as crisp as burnt toast. She would not accept excuses, not in work or in life. Her art was big and bold, and her friendship was, too.”
Franny found Leo in the crowd, and made eye contact with him. “Marilyn never accepted my excuses for failing to be as generous and loving as she is. Was. I mean, as she was. But she is, too. I mean, even though she’s, you know, gone, I feel her with me every day. But I also miss her.” Holding Leo’s gaze threw her completely outside herself, so she blinked, and refocused on Douglas.
“My last conversation with her, she said to me, the universe doesn’t always send a white feather. It doesn’t always give us a sign. There is such a thing as being too late for love.” Franny took another deep breath. “So, she said, I have to fight for myself. For what I want, and need. And, well, the poem I wrote was sort of about that. So maybe I’ll read it after all.”
She opened the piece of paper on which she’d written the words. They swam, prompting Franny to realize tears filled her eyes. She blinked them back.
“Here goes,” she said. And began.