Thursday, November 05, 2009
Twenty years ago today my ex-wife, Audrey-Lea Dawson died by her own hands and wishes. Earlier this fall I marked the 40th anniversary of my first meeting her and what would have been our 37th wedding anniversary too. Ah, unforgiving numbers. Lea and I separated in '85 and a couple of years later formalized a divorce by which time the lustrous friendship we had had in earliest days had rekindled. She had come out as a lesbian well before that and it was with her primarily lesbian friends that I gathered for a vigil, wake, what is, I think too euphemistically termed " a celebration of the life" a few nights after November, 5th, 1989. They were good people and they comforted me with little stories of Lea and affirmations that she had always spoken well of her "ex".
Now, two decades later there is pretty well no one I see much anymore who knew "Lea and Norman" as a never-all-that-happy but deeply attached and loyal couple. And so to this dubiously read blog I must turn to mark this moment, to repeat how much I admired Lea's courage in the face of inner demons that arose from a markedly unhappy childhood, and, possibly from sublimated abuses she was only just beginning to explore at the time of her death. Most of all I want to say how I loved her in a way that went beyond the fragility of romance.
In the days immediately after she chose to leave us I wrote this sonnet which, obviously, is to and for her.
THE PATHS OF LOVE
To know someone as well as I knew you
Was to walk down the same path every day
For years on years, until, so known the way,
That not a twig would snap as we passed through.
And so this quiet between us was a sign
Of closeness that no marriage could divide.
I could look forward to the change in tide
to times when, in a new way, you were "mine."
But without you, I wander through a place
Of which I have no knowledge and less hope.
This land is now an unfamiliar face
That scowls. I ask the question: can I cope?
With thirty - perhaps more - years apart from you
And from those well worn paths of love we knew.