An Emerald Necklace

Many necklaces are special.

Sometimes a necklace is not a necklace.

Strung between my longtime work world and the galaxy of Boston hospitals clustered around Fenway Park–the first and last ballpark where my husband Jim saw the home team play–is an Emerald Necklace.

My day began very early, in deep dark, when I drove to Dana Farber’s Cancer Institute.   Along the highway were simmering meadows of black fog.

In Boston I paid a visit to the Institute’s Healing Garden, suspended stories above the city.  It bursts with white and magenta orchids and has a soundtrack of chirping birds.  Running close to one wide window is a lattice of intricate flora which resemble sailors’ knots gone wild–bright, curving tendrils like a hybrid of origami and undersea creatures.

Jim would have studied them closely, thinking about how he might engineer a similarly spectacular display in his own garden.

Very close to Dana Farber is an Emerald Necklace, Frederick Law Olmsted’s string of parks, which stretches from Boston Common to Franklin Park.

Before work and after rushing to a series of appointments, I had a rare opportunity to pause between worlds.   I slipped down to the bank of one of this necklace’s jewels, which sparkled and fluttered with Jim’s greens and blues–and the birds I think of as frequent messengers from him.

By a sturdy rock, a large bird oversaw five smaller ones as they navigated the pond.

On that same path, near those same teaching hospitals, Jim and I had walked hand in hand as newlyweds during the rare occasions I could meet him there while he could take a break as he moved through his medical training.

Young couples strolled with babies.   Much older couples walked more slowly together.  Some were quiet; some talked animatedly.  Some endearingly bickered.

I am not sure why this place affected and overcame me as it did today, as I walked that path alone for both of us.

Shagging Flies on the Green Monster

(c) 2010 Dan Martin
Atop the Green Monster at Fenway

As one of my children said to the consternation of her fourth grade teacher, who innocently had asked a question about symbolism in a grade-appropriate novel about a dog, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

“Shagging Flies on the Green Monster” isn’t a euphemism or allusion, although I think it could be made into some mighty interesting ones.  It’s a message entwined with a picture from the past: every so often, a certain social network treats me to a “memorable status update” from the cyber-world’s vast stocks.  One recurring such update was sent from my husband from atop the left field wall at Fenway Park: “Shagging Flies on the Green Monster.”

This is my husband: the smile, the boyish joy, the camera, the always-ready-to-go backpack, the work pants he did not have a chance to change before rushing down to Fenway from his office on a beautiful spring night . . . and one of the two beers. (My little brother claimed the other.  Or so he says.)

The way he inveigled the ticket also was classic Jim.  Through a complicated interstate series of events and exchanges and shipments, my big brother in Chicago learned that a college friend in Utah possessed two precious tickets to the top of the Green Monster, but neither that brother nor his friend could get to Boston.  It was decreed that one ticket would go to my little brother and the other was all mine.  I could use it myself . . . or I could give it to the Red Sox-loving son just outside Boston, or to my husband.  Indeed, I could bless whomever I wanted with it.

I grew up just outside Boston; I would not be short on takers or offers.  The power of that ticket was immense.

Jim may have been selfless, but even he had his limits.  Thus he gently lobbied me:  “You know, I’ve been around fifty years.  This could be my only chance.”

And he looked at me with those eyes, sometimes assuredly green and sometimes amber-flecked russet, and tilted his head with as much of a pleading smile as he could offer without laughing.  He may have taken a lesson from the irresistible faces our beagles are capable of making, cocking their heads and looking deeply at us, as if we were their entire worlds and possessed their bottomless love and devotion–whenever they simply want a t-r-e-a-t.

I could not help but relent, and told him it was going to be his Father’s Day present and he was lucky to have a wife who would give up such a treasure.

It was only weeks later when we heard his diagnosis.

I’m so very glad I gave in.

(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

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