Joan Stephens

Personal Journal - June 21, 1991, Midsummer's Night, 3:00 A.M.

I went with Vincent to her grave tonight. I wish I hadn't. Ilearned something that I would rather not know. I thought he wasgoing to say goodbye, but he still loves her as though she is stillalive. It's as if he pretends that she is away on a trip and will beback at any time.

I asked him, "How often do you come here?"

"Not often," he answered, gently touching her moon-kissedheadstone. "She is still very much alive to me." Dropping to oneknee, he pulled back his hood, revealing his love-softened face. Hedoes not hide his emotions from me. He is comfortable in ourfriendship. Is that a compliment or not? I'm not sure. Kissing thepetals of the single red rose he holds in his hands, he reverentlyplaced it, oh so tenderly, on her grave next to the headstone whereit is protected from the wind.

"How long can you go on like this?" I asked, worried about hisemotional stability. It has been over a year but still he clings toher. I need to know how long this will continue, if he can tellme.

"I don't know," he replied, rising to his feet. "At least untilJacob no longer needs me." But he seemed to know what I am asking."How long can I live without her? I don't know that either," hereplied again, shaking his great head slowly.

The time will come, if he continues in this manner, when he willbe no more, when he will be with her. I envision a future with noVincent, and it is a very bleak future.

"I wonder if you'll ever accommodate yourself to her loss?" Imutter softly, speaking the thought that had crossed my mind,forgetting that he could hear me.

Startled, he stared at me for a few seconds, caught off guard.Reflecting on my question for a few seconds, he finally mused,"Accommodate? An odd word in this instance. It means to adapt to orfit in with the wishes or needs of others." He stopped, ruminated afew seconds more, then continued, "No, I will never adapt to her lossand whose wishes or needs must I accommodate?"

I wanted to tell him that he was completely blind to my wishes orneeds but wisely kept my thoughts to myself this time.

He ran his hands, caressingly, over the headstone one more timethen turned to me. "Are you ready?" he asked, pulling me back from myponderings. Am I ready? I would follow him anywhere, but I cannotfollow where he goes. He has made that abundantly clear. He is myfriend, nothing more.

Steering me by my elbow away from her resting place and out of St.Cleo's Cemetery, he walked me home, all the while speaking ofCatherine, taking on that easy look and manner of friendship that ishis defense against close relationships. He hasn't realized yet thathe uses me as a sounding board. Do I mind? Not really. I love towatch the transformation, the animation that comes over him. Hebecomes a completely different man: vibrant, alive, his eyes aglowand his face alight with love. He moves about restlessly as if hisbody cannot contain all the love he feels for her. And I am strucktime and time again by the unfairness of this love. For such a loveto be struck down in the glory of its flowering is a tragedy worthyof Shakespeare. And my heart aches for both of them . . . and for meas well.

We said goodbye on my roof, and with a peck on the cheek, hedisappeared into the night that is at once his refuge and his home. Istood there motionless for minutes, then, shaking myself, I returnedto my loft. Too tired, too wound up to sleep I now sit before mycomputer putting my thoughts down on the screen. I wonder if therewill ever be a chance for me.