During this very difficult time, the postings on this website have delighted me immensely. It’s like finding exquisite gifts to open on the table each time I come back into the room. Thank you all for sharing your stories, reflections and feelings about David. The respect and love for David you have expressed makes my heart swell with an ache I know is shared by many. His particular light – playful, brilliant, unexpectedly refracted, intense, inviting and bouncy-where is it? Though he is gone, I am so grateful that so many are bringing it forth in their stories and that we can still visit what was through the marvel of this website, recordings, videos-YouTube, even! And, of course, by sharing more stories and recollections. Thank you, Chris Bromige for setting this up and, also, thanks to Laura Bennett for her assistance with this. As for David, he and Pat Nolan were joking the other day about Rabelais’ last words, something to the effect of “venturing forth into the great perhaps”, if perhaps David has gone “to heaven”, I imagine he is chatting up the angels right now. I know he had me after “hello.”
It took some years before cognition turned into action, but lucky for me, he wanted me, too. We had a tempestuous, emotionally mile-high club relationship filled with every pleasure-intellectual, physical, comedic and emotional-you might imagine. And after several more years of coming together and sometimes separating; working out what needed attention from our pasts, learning better “communication and conflict resolution skills”, we married on January 3rd, 1981. A date we later regretted, as we were always so tired from the holidays by then, it was difficult to get excited about celebrating anything. One time David took me to a lovely B&B in Healdsburg where we enjoyed champagne as we relaxed in the hot tub. Then it was off to a very expensive, fabulous dinner at the Madrona Manor where I managed, with no encouragement, to fall asleep during the soup course. This was not David’s favorite memory. None-the-less, he did remind me of it fairly often over the years.
By Spring 1982, we had our beautiful “English girl”, Margaret “Maggie” Belle Bromige, of whom he had dreamed during the pregnancy. 27 years young now, Maggie was able to be with her father during the last years of his life and helped keep him company, bring him tea, share a song or a new dance she was studying. Margaret, David and I had many adventures. We all enjoyed the theatre, she grew up on poetry readings all over the world and more years than not, we had terrific vacations. These were usually carefully planned by David and then just as carefully preserved in albums which contain not only photos, but ticket stubs, postcards, restaurant receipts and menus…plus hand printed comments that made us laugh and remember what was special about each day. Margaret, like Chris, was one of the only people in the world who got to have David read to them at bedtime. They also made up several lengthy on-going stories of their own. I wish I had taped those. David was part of the parent club that picked up Margaret and her friend Megan from their horseback riding lessons, was kept up by giggly girls all night who came for frequent sleep-overs (Go To Bed!…silence…more giggles…GO TO BED! Etc.) and who was in the audience, glowing, night after night with me to see her perform in a notable number of stellar performances as part of the Analy High School Drama Department’s offerings.
Chris Bromige, a serious and very witty, smart and funny, caring man of 45, father of two himself now ( Nathan and Joni) in Vancouver with his wife of 11 years, Sue Hornby, was also traveling down to see us over the years from his mother’s, Joan Peacock, in B.C. for holidays and sometimes summers, too. Chris was 14 when I met him. He had on a cap with moose ears and had already shot past six feet tall. What would he think of me? He might hate me and make my life miserable as an interloper; another change in his life he might or might not put up with. I am the luckiest step-mother in the world. Chris has always been loving, supportive, open and so much fun to be with. He was also on some of those special trips we took; Hawaii, England, France; Paradise, California where we swam freely in the flume-not knowing it was the town’s water supply. We helped each other with this complexity known as David who, due to his own difficult early years, sometimes didn’t understand how good family life could be. Many was the time though that we were laughing ourselves silly. Playing Back Alley Bridge late into the night, the three of us seeing who would win and stay up the longest is one of my, and I suspect Chris’, fondest memories of just having a lot of fun together. We were both sorry when that game had to be put away.
David’s skepticism about family relations extended to my family when we first got together and it wasn’t always easy. I remember my own father being remarkably good natured about the fact that he wasn’t allowed to use the single bathroom next to our bedroom before David got up when they came to visit…even though this necessitated my father having to go to the local Dunkin’ Donuts every morning to pee. Eventually, they and he came to love each other deeply. My parents moved closer and they didn’t need to use our bathroom.
Many birthday parties and Christmas holidays were spent here en famille with my brother Jim also, his children James and Chrissy and niece, Cherie. We have a great picture of David and my father together on the couch asleep after Christmas dinner. They had been watching, for about a half hour, a gift David received earlier that day- a video called “Great Canadian Railway Trips”.
After David took an attractive early retirement offer from Sonoma State University, prompted in part by some early warning health scares in 1995, we had more than our share of relationship difficulties as I continued to work and, while all the good things were still happening, there was pain and rancor. Everything became an “issue”. In utter frustration one afternoon, I threw a pineapple sitting on our counter at David’s head. I missed. The pineapple lay on the floor, intact. David immediately ran and got the camera and took a picture of the pineapple to save as “evidence”. I have that picture.
Ah well. In 2000, our lives had begun healing and we were able to start appreciating each other again as adults with much to offer. It was not long after that- January 2001 that David’s increasing breathing difficulties turned into the need for a double by-pass heart surgery that was followed a week later by a stroke. And many, many serious complications that continued to plague him over the next nine years. But it was during this time that we both became better selves and lovers to each other. Despite the difficulties, or because of them, we were able to be more supportive and loving. We had lots of renewed romance and fun. We saw wonderful friends at our home for dinners and parties. We also went out with them as often as we could. David still continued to write and give readings. He became the 2nd Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. We rode on the back seat of a sports car waving to his fans as we passed cheering crowds as part of the annual Apple Blossom Parade down Main Street. We read many books together out loud; only me reading later. Magic Mountain, The Great Gatsby, The Good Soldier, a bunch of Paul Theroux travel books, great American short stories. It was one of the most intimate experiences of my life. We would do that between the time I came home from work and started dinner. Usually having a glass of Pinot Noir, his favorite. We went to see Shakespeare in the (Ives) Park, just around the corner; once with Ray Neinstein and his son. Ray flew all the way out from New York this year just to be with David at his 75th birthday party (the energy in the house was vibrating that October day). It was at that party that Kathleen Fraser and I called the room together to announce that Ken Edwards of Reality Street Press in England was offering to publish David’s collected poems…and that Ron Silliman and Bob Perelman were going to edit it. Kathleen deserves the credit for reaching out to Ken with this project. David was, almost, speechless. He was very, very happy with so many friends around him from nearby, Bolinas, San Francisco and beyond.
He had told me, a week before the party, not knowing about the pending book deal, somewhat glumly and fiercely, “I damn well better have something to work on after this party”. I was so glad he did. (All remaining conspirators have committed to make it happen).
Dear local friends, Sue and Tom Kelly, Bill Vartnaw, James Garrahan, Pat Nolan, Richard Denner, Helen Dunn, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion; Ed Coletti and many more friends who celebrated with us, saw the struggles, helped with them- thank you. And to friends, further away, who visited, called, e-mailed: Bob Grenier, Jerry Rosen, Ellen Humm and Opal Louis Nations; Barry Gifford, Ray Neinstein, Steve Benson, Paul and Judy Debarros, Norman Gordon Pilkington, Susan Gevirtz, Kathleen Frasier, Kit Robinson, Ron Silliman and, again, many, many more, I am so glad to know all of you.
Chris and Margaret are being very supportive of me and caring, but seeing them struggle with the loss is painful. Yet, they are dealing with it so admirably though, that I am filled with pride and love for their strengths. That is most comforting in this sorrowful time.
It’s been 31 years since David first said hello to me. We’ve been having a wonderfully complicated and full life since then. . It’s an unbelievable ( to me) amount of time we have been together. And yet, just this Wednesday, after staying up with him, talking to him until 3:30 in the morning, I went to lie down on the couch for awhile. Then, as if quite suddenly, he was gone. I will miss my dear David.
Cecelia Belle Bromige 6-6-09