The tender things may be painful for Green to remember; due to her crystalline, sincere rendering, they are also painful to read about. Perhaps because this is not the memoir of a couple married for decades — Green and Wallace had been married for but four years at the time of his death — the love here conveyed feels hot, blooming, then disastrously cut short, tragically adumbrated by all the trauma and anger that constitute suicide’s ugly gifts. (“The doctor says if you were so quote perfect for me unquote you’d probably still be around, no offense,” Green writes, struggling with the cruelty of the paradox.) I could quote any number of excruciating passages, but here is one of the most delicate and agonized: “On our wedding night we smiled at the antler chandelier rigged with rope and walls as cold as snow. Sorry, sorry. How on earth.” How on earth did our love come to this; how on earth did we find this love: two sentiments locked together in a Gordian knot — perhaps forever — by the violent abandonment of Wallace’s death.
Here’s a remembrance of Wallace from John Powers.
Painting by Anne Harris