|Rosemary Elizabeth Healey
While I cannot speak for others, one of the tragedies of my life, is that when I became curious to ask the question, the person that could give me the answer was dead.
I never did ask my father how it was that in 1950 a frequent visitor was his friend Julio Cortázar. Why were they friends?
This photograph of Rosemary is a scan (amazing but almost forgotten technology of the last century) of a little picture from our family album that I never noticed as it was too small. Was it taken in her high school graduation? Could it have been in college? I will never know.
Because I first photographed Rosemary when we met in 1967, this photograph represents almost the idea of meeting somebody for the first time. It was until now an undiscovered picture of her.
When she died in December 9, 2020 I was 78. A quotient of the two numbers means that at that point our life together had been 66% of my existence. At that time I had never lived alone. I have now lived alone for three years.
I cannot adjust. My two daughters often call me. My granddaughters do not. Up until Rosemary died we had contact with those granddaughters. I miss them.
Since then, a great majority of the friends and writers I worked with have died. Isolation since the pandemic began is now routine. The phone almost never rings.
I have a former editor friend who told me, “I never answer emails as I get too many of them. I never answer my land line. If you want to contact me I must tell you that I have my cell phone ringer on off so you must first text me that you want to talk.”
Of course I do not communicate with him. He does not communicate with me as (my opinion) I have lost my usefulness as a photographer or writer. He no longer edits any magazine or newspaper.
My isolation is thus compounded by the idea that I have lost my utility to anybody with what I know how to do.
What saves me from a desire for a rapid oblivion are my two cats Niño and Niña. I have found out that cats learn. When Rosemary and I brought Niño and his sister Niña from the SPCA 6 years ago, Niña was a scaredy cat. She would hide in the closet when people came. She rapidly adopted Rosemary and was with her all the time. I felt a tad miffed.
I can report that since Rosemary died, Niña is by my side or on top of me on the bed whenever possible. She competes for my attention with the cat that was always my cat, Niño.
I wonder if they are aware of my isolation? I wonder if they miss Rosemary?
I have since learned that for a cat to want affection is to be affectionate. They are affectionate.
Rosemary was affectionate in a different way. She always made sure I had extra razors and shaving cream. She planned our trips abroad all with her iPhone on the bed. I complained to my daughters that Rosemary spent too much time on or in the bed. That is precisely what I do now.
Nobody can understand what happens when you suddenly do not share a bed, or have a joint tub bath (we did this frequently) or watch Noir Alley on TV with your wife.
I have no idea exactly what the term “not to have the heart to” means. But I have ceased watching TV, going to the theatre and most concerts. I lie on the bed with my two cats and read books in Spanish. I don’t know anybody in Vancouver who might be interested in the importance of Ernesto Sábato’s Sobre Héroes y Tumbas or any of the short stories of Borges or Cortázar.
I could have discussed all that with Rosemary. We often read the same author on duplicate books.
Only lately have I come to understand that a moment in time becomes a memory.
With spring around the corner, I will be working in the garden again. Even though I do not believe in ghosts I will sense Rosemary’s presence and when I smell my roses it will be like smelling Rosemary behind the ear.