We can picture them gathered, again, in the back garden of Marilyn’s old house. We (and they) know it is now Douglas’s house; we (and they) understand that’s how Marilyn wanted it. And yet, her spirit grows there as surely as the roses and hydrangeas and lavender and that one odd shrub with showy, ruffly, beautiful purple flowers, the one no one remembers the name of, ever. It’s a conversation starter, blooming all summer, prompting old friends and new acquaintances to ask one another: what is that called, again? It is on the tip of my tongue.
So they, the Pine Street denizens, and we continue to call it Marilyn’s old house. Douglas does not mind, and, to her credit, neither does Louise.
We picture them all together, each person’s attention split between the ceremony occurring in the present and their memories, feelings, hopes, and fears.
Franny and Leo are there, of course. Leo is the beaming best man, having arrived just a bit later than promised, and therefore wearing a unique ensemble of pressed blue dress shirt and silver tie, along with paint-stained cargo work shorts and dusty tennis shoes. Leo is neither embarrassed nor self-conscious. He knows this moment is about Douglas and Louise.
Franny stands in the front row, near Leo, shifting her gaze from him to her friend Douglas, smiling at them both. Her heart beats achingly, a muscle that knows all love is both abiding and fleeting.
Allison has never looked more elfin, wearing a simple summer dress trimmed in yellow embroidery, hair pulled into a sleek ponytail, remembering when she said farewell to her boyfriend, wondering if love will visit her again, realizing she is, right now, indifferent to the decision of the universe in this regard. If love comes, she will embrace it. If it does not, she has every intention of living a full and happy life. The peace this realization brings to Allison shines through her eyes.
Kassandra is elated. Her mind’s eye overlays the happy couple before her with the outline of a sculpture she will begin the next day, a twisting graceful shape she imagines as the scaffolding of a happy marriage. She knows Sasha will arrive for the reception, but feels no anxiety about this. Kassandra is one of those simple souls who mostly experiences one emotion at a time, and is all the happier for it.
Penelope stands behind her sister. Her eyes are wet with happy tears. She hopes she will not drink too much, and fears she already has. David stands by Leo, his heart full for his father, his envy and inner hurt battling for his attention. He tries not to look at Franny looking at Leo.
Louise and Douglas repeat their vows, eyes only for one another, hands clasped, speaking love into being for themselves and all their friends, for Marilyn’s roses and lavender, for all the world.