Franny’s phone conversation with Douglas leads to a very tentative promise to visit, in person, soon. Every person on Pine Street is finding their way through the maze of rebuilding social life.
Like the gentle yellow sunshine on a mid spring morning, the possibilities of reconnection set everything aglow.
Douglas’s experiences with illness (his own) and death (Marilyn, Penelope, Sasha) have changed him. He senses a constriction around his heart when he thinks of his loved ones: Louise, who has been so tender and kind and strong, despite the loss of her sister; David, who has transformed from a broken, angry, manipulative person into a deeply loving father; Kassandra, whose youthful optimism shows in her art and her engagement with the world; and Franny, who somehow brought this odd crew of Pine Street folk together and still provides the glue that holds them.
And Leo, and Allison, and all the rest. Douglas is so afraid to discover who he will lose next. Buried deeper, beneath that fear, is the one that he himself will be the one to go, leaving them behind.
There are times when he vows never to expose his heart to love again. He promises he will harden himself off, like a tender plant put out in the spring, so he can survive the coming of harsh sun or cold nights. He will be kind and generous to all who surround him, he swears, but he will not love them.
At those moments, he feels a touch on his shoulder. He does not turn, for he knows who it is. He pauses, takes a deep breath, and waits for her voice.
“My dear,” Marilyn’s spirit whispers. “My dear, beloved man. You can no more turn off your heart than you can force yourself to stop blinking. Do you want to spend your energy hiding this love?”
The truth of these words resonates in his bones, and yet. He is so afraid.
Marilyn’s spirit is there with him. “Befriend your fear, my love. Sit with it, share a cup of tea with it, and recognize it is as much a part of life as anything else.”