Several historic homes we visited in New England offered reminders of the omnipresence of death in earlier times.
In one house, a large marble bust of a young man stood in the corner of the living room, the likeness of a son, age 19, who had gone upstairs after dinner and died. The same family had lost a 26-year-old daughter to colitis, sitting up with her in her bedroom in the final weeks of her life.
Loss and the possibility of loss dogged the everyday, making people perhaps more comfortable with death than we. On the grounds of the home of the sculptor Daniel Chester French, I encountered this funerary sculpture of a boy, with an arched path leading up to a bench for meditation nearby. I can imagine the husband and wife sitting on this bench, recalling their dead child, and pondering God’s nature and human love.
Each summer contemporary sculpture is installed in the park, and this summer a modern sculpture resembling a pregnant woman has been placed in between the bench and the boy.
Today our niece was married in a beautiful open-air ceremony.
The day was hot, and the stylist persuaded CC at the last moment to have her hair put up, its thick coils enhancing the dignity of an already impressively radiant bride.
Seeing her so transformed into maturity and entering gracefully into this important commitment marked a wonderful moment in our family life. To recall the day of her baptism and compare that new being to this was to appreciate anew the marvelous nature of her journey. I admire my sister for having raised two such personable and accomplished girls.
The bridal couple chose the historic Fruitlands farm, in Harvard, Massachusetts, for the setting. This was once a utopian community, where in the 1840s Transcendentalists like Bronson Alcott (Louisa May’s father) sought to achieve an ideal and harmonious style of living. Choosing a spectacular tract of land, high on a hill with expansive views, there they farmed and planted orchards.
Today, in a tent pitched on that very site, we celebrated the beginning of a new and hopeful enterprise. May the future of this young couple be studded with felicity and joy!
If you’re looking for signs, this spot on Broadway is the place to be. Walk through the wrong door, and you may find a soulmate instead of lunch.