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First Comes Loveby Marion Winik
Synopses & Reviews
Tony has never looked more beautiful than he does right now, sleeping, his features sculpted and glowing by the light of the candles. They are the Mexican kind, in tall glasses, two white and two blue as he requested, arranged in a semicircle around our wedding photograph: my gauzy veil, his spiky hair, our wide, giddy smiles. Under the edge of the picture's vermilion frame, he has slipped another photo, a dreamy-looking sepiatone postcard of a woman dancing that someone gave him on his birthday in the hospital last month; she seems only half there, as if she had turned the corner into another dimension.
On the lower shelf of the night table, there are two goblets of red wine, still full, along with Tony's rimless eyeglasses, which I just took off for him. The table is one of a pair he bought at an estate sale, then stripped and painted and drizzled with wavy lines of pink and white paint-a typical Tony home improvement project in that it took almost a year and he ran out of paint before he finished all the boomerang-shaped decks. Its twin stands on the other side of the bed, a firm and lovely king-size model that we acquired when I was pregnant with Vince and damned if I would go through another pregnancy on that old futon of ours. Flanked by these tables, the bed has always reminded me of the Starship Enterprise, about to take off for the final frontier.
I have been watching Tony sleep for almost twelve years, on and off, since the early days when I was so keyed up and hungry that at night I lay wide-eyed beside him, gazing at him, examining him, drinking and eating him with my eyes. In the morning, I would wake up first, make coffee, come back to bed to look some more. I filled sketchbooks with drawings of him sleeping. The dark lashes against the cheek, the long arm thrown out against the pillow, the fingers curled slightly toward the palm. Years later, I took a series of photographs of him napping with Hayes; in the first, a few days after Hayes's birth, they are sleeping on the lambskin baby spread together and there is that arm again, the baby no longer than the distance from wrist to elbow.
When you think how much of a person's beauty is in their eyes, it is astonishing how beautiful they can be with them closed in sleep, perhaps as when you suddenly notice how talented the members of a chorus line are once the stars of the show have left the stage. Finally, you can look at something else. His hair, for instance, cut the way I like it best, long in front, short at the sides and back. We call it the don't-ever-change do because he alternates between this and more extreme cuts, and whenever he returns to this look, my mother and her friends at the club say, Don't ever change. It is beautiful hair, thick and shiny, a sandy forelock jutting forward and slanting down almost into his eyes. He's been complaining of its falling out and changing texture from the medication, but I don't see it, only that the color didn't lighten this year because he didn't spend that much time outside. Normally, his hair bleaches almost blond every summer, the color it was when he was a boy, the color Hayes's and Vince's is now.
The boys look so much like him, especially Hayes; I've seen a picture of Tony at nine, ice-skating on a pond, that could easily be our son. Hayes doesn't quite have the eyebrows yet, the thick, dark Italian brows Tony inherited from his mother. Beneath them
From National Public Radio commentator Marion Winik,
The National Public Radio commentator reflects on her relationship with her late husband, their 1983 meeting at Mardi Gras, falling in love with a gay man, their marriage and children, the horrors of AIDS, and their final moments together as she helped her husband die. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
When Marion Winik fell in love with Tony Heubach during a wild Mardi Gras in NewOrleans, her friends shook their heads. For starters, she was straight and he was gay. But Marion and Tony's impossible love turned out to be true enough to produce a marriage and two beautiful sons, true enough to weather drug addiction, sexual betrayal, and the AIDS that would kill Tony at the age of thirty-seven, twelve years after they met.
In a memoir heartbreakingand hilarious by turns, Marion Winik tells a story that is all more powerful for the way in which it defies easy judgments. As it charts the trajectory of a marriage so impossible that it became inevitable, First Comes Love reminds us--poignantly indelibly--that every story is a special case.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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