The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
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Peter Brooks
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Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
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Sarah Churchwell
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Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
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Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
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François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
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Aamer Hussein
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John Kelly
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Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
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Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
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Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
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Celeste Schenck
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Sudeep Sen
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Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
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Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
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Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
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John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz


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Interlitq has acted as a collaborating institution of Americas Society in New York, founded by David Rockefeller in 1965

 

Glenna Luschei

The Power of Prose:
From Three Rivers: A Memoir
By: Glenna Luschei
 

 



(Chapter Twenty Three)
Joan of Arc Becomes the Girl Next Door

Until that time came, my firstborn continued delivering her message to all who would listen, in interviews with news magazines, on national TV programs with Larry King and Peter Jennings. Despite her tireless public work, her dearest wish was to celebrate the holidays quietly in the circle of our family, to play Scrabble in front of the big fireplace at the ranch. Mine was to celebrate her 36th birthday in January. Both wishes came true, but I wanted her birthdays to go on for decades.

One fall morning, not long after the NAMES Quilt event, I rose before dawn to take the six a.m. express flight to L.A. from Monterey. I’d spent a cold foggy week at a writers’ conference in Pacific Grove. When I checked out, the Asilomar Conference Center receptionist remarked, “Early morning is my favorite time of the day by the ocean.” I agreed. The fog obscured the cypress trees and curlews cried from the sand dunes as the taxi pulled away from the great wood and stone building designed by Julia Morgan.

The cab driver pointed out the airport, sparkling in the mist. Planes were flying again after three days of heavy brume. Cirrus clouds stippled the sky as the plane took off, a fresco brushed with light by the rising sun. As we neared Los Angeles, the fog moved onshore again, but we drove through it like a sleek seabird.

At Los Angeles International Airport, I flagged another taxi. I had to reach Linda’s house by ten a.m., to accompany her to First Lady Hillary Clinton’s AIDS telethon at UCLA Extension.

“Please look up address for me.” The cab driver handed me the Thomas Guide. He had just arrived in the U.S. from India three days earlier.

I’d been to Linda’s Venice Beach home only once before, the previous Father’s Day. Driving down the coast that June morning, Bill had complained, “It’s Father’s Day, and I have to drive to L.A,” but I was thrilled we’d been invited—my children, his step-children, wanted to acknowledge and celebrate him as their father.

Linda and Erich made mimosas for us that day, with fresh orange juice and champagne. As Bill and I settled ourselves on the couch, a burly man in a wrecked car lobbed what appeared to be a bomb through the open front door of Linda’s tropical blue house. It thumped and skidded across the floor, landing at our feet—the fat Sunday Los Angeles Times.

That image was all I could remember when I tried to visualize where she lived. In a moment of lucidity born of panic, I remembered the street name and directions. “Please hurry,” I urged the taxi driver. “My daughter is very sick, and Hillary Clinton has asked her to appear on her telethon. If we don’t get there before ten, you’ll have to take me back to the airport.” I don’t know if he understood any of it, but he caught my anxious tone and delivered me safe to her door in Venice Beach.

“I can honk?” he asked. I nodded. He sounded the horn. Neighbors peered out from their porches, as Linda pulled her IV pole behind her down the walkway.

“I no charge for this,” said the cab driver, smiling. I thanked him and handed him some bills anyway, then turned to my daughter with a deep breath. She and I had a few minutes to talk while she finished her infusion.

“Mom, I have a boyfriend!” Linda’s blue eyes sparkled. “He’s wonderful. God, for all this time since Michael died I’ve wanted a sweetheart so much, like everyone else. A man in my Friends for Life group fell in love with me. Steve. He’s HIV positive, too. He tells me I’m giving him the best months of his life.”

Anyone else would have said the best years of his life. People with AIDS’ heightened sense of time still had the power to shake me from my customary moorings.

Their openness about the sexual consequences of the disease startled me, too. I never let Linda know that I was mortified when her picture came out in Time with the article in which she said that her lover used latex gloves when they had sex. She was driving home the point that someone with AIDS was still entitled to intimacy, but I wanted to destroy all four million copies in circulation.

Bill and I were in Oregon on our annual fly-fishing trip with the Horton cousins from North Carolina when that issue of Time came out.

“Linda has a choice,” Bill’s cousin said. “She can go out in triumph, or like a tramp.”

How cruel, I thought. But I was sure the whole family felt the same way.

I quickly came to understand the logic behind Linda’s very public insistence that she be treated as a normal woman. I supported her need to make headlines, to stand up for the rights of all those in the AIDS community. I no longer had time for anyone who wouldn’t allow HIV positive people into the mainstream of human love and passion.

Linda finished her infusion and, while she got dressed, she invited me to look through photographs from her recent cruise holiday. She’d asked me to go with her on the cruise. I will always regret I did not go with her. I had to choose between spending time with Linda and hosting Bill’s class reunion at our ranch. There will be a lot of choices like that, I mused. What about my twin granddaughters on the way? Erich’s family may need me. Linda needs me here, but Bill needs me, too. I sighed.

The dilemma of every woman—pulled in a hundred directions by those she loves. And there was my own work as well; Café Solo came out annually and I was publishing my poetry in journals around the country. At least I’d finished my dissertation.

Leafing through the cruise pictures, I saw Linda on the gangplank, the captain kissing her hand, Linda, resplendent in black at the masked ball. No one would guess from these photos that she was sick. Still, when her infusion line backfired during the trip, the ensuing spurt of blood sent her cabin-mate into hysterics over the danger of possible infection. The ship’s surgeon repaired the damage and Linda enjoyed the captain’s dinner that evening.

Linda whisked back into the living room, dazzling in a white suit. I was still wearing my writers’ conference sweats, hardly appropriate for Hillary’s telethon. But, I reminded myself, I’m not the star here.

Linda asked if she should send the photo of her with a sign that said “Jerusalem” for her Christmas card. I was glad she was thinking ahead as far as Christmas.

“I like the one of the captain kissing your hand,” I replied. “That’s a stunning dress.”

“Is it all right if I wear your sequined dress for New Year’s?” she said.

I nodded. New Year’s. Please, God, let her see the new year, her next birthday, the one after that.

We zipped across town to Universal City. Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self Magazine opened the forum; Hillary Clinton appeared on the large screen. She gave an eloquent introduction to women’s health issues. Women with medical issues, in the U.S. and throughout the world, appeared on smaller screens via satellite to voice questions and concerns to her.

Thunderous applause followed the First Lady’s responses to questions about her health care initiative. We didn’t know then that it would take another twenty years to see anything approaching universal coverage.

“Is Linda Luschei in the audience?” Dr. Bourque asked Linda to come forward.

Dr. Linda Bourque of UCLA women’s health program introduced Linda, noting, “She is co-founder and a board member of Women at Risk, a foundation to help women everywhere cope with HIV and AIDS.”

“I felt invisible for years, because HIV/AIDS wasn’t considered a woman’s disease.” Linda's strong voice rang with conviction. “Many doctors who specialize in AIDS have not addressed women’s issues, because they’ve worked primarily with gay men. But women are the fastest growing segment of America’s HIV population. Right now, I’m taking an experimental drug that has not been tested on women.”

The audience sat motionless, intent on her words.

“My friends and I founded Women at Risk to raise awareness of women’s health issues, primarily HIV and AIDS,” she continued. “Ignorance about women’s health cannot be accepted as an excuse for neglecting our needs, any more than homophobia can be tolerated in the medical community.”

Applause exploded through the hall once again. A great pride in my daughter swept through my heart. It was not the delight I felt when she danced before hand-clapping audiences as a child, but something powerful, spiritual and mature.

Linda had risen to challenge terrible circumstances and fulfill her earthly mission. I would have respected any woman speaking so eloquently for voiceless women suffering throughout the world. I was overwhelmed that the warrior before me was my own daughter, my Joan of Arc, smiling at me from the stage, even as her energy waned.

We left soon after her presentation. Linda wanted to stop for Chinese food. As always, I offered a silent prayer that she could eat well. She picked her way through a few bites of stir fry and then asked to take the rest home.

The waitress brought the check with fortune cookies. There was no fortune in Linda’s. Chilling. I’d become used to bad omens.

“Yesterday I deposited the funds from my life insurance check.” she told me. “The bank let me cash it in because my doctor verified I have less than six months to live.”

Less than six months. I heard the words, but my brain wouldn’t grasp their meaning.

My flight home under a gorgeous red sunset was as lovely as the dawn fresco flight. I remembered a song my mother and grandmother used to sing to me when we traveled: “I see the sun rise. I see the sun set. And by the first rainbow I’ll be home again yet. I’ll see the sun rise and I’ll see the sun set.” I wished Linda could come home with me, both of us washed in the promise of the sun’s last light.

Shortly after the Clinton teleconference, Linda sat me down and again told me she was facing her final months of life. I finally took it in; we cried together. She asked me to let everyone in the family know. Later that week, I wrote with a shaking hand to our friends and family the most difficult words I’ve ever set down. I surrendered my denial, at last.

I have been told that I have a gift of healing as a mediator between the body and the spirit, and so it was agonizing to admit that I was unable to save my daughter. The darkening path before us terrified me, but accepting reality was somehow fortifying. I focused on what I could do for Linda, as we faced the shrinking circle of time together. My job was to mother her, to support her with my love, to ensure that her last wishes were complied with.

After the family Thanksgiving feast at the ranch, we honored Linda’s wish to play Scrabble in front of the fire with her family. We even “let” her win—a joke because she always won, anyway. When our guests had left, Tom and Erich snapped together her IV pole and hung the bag of saline solution for her. She adjusted the monitor to start the infusion that kept her body functioning.

On the patio, we toasted a gorgeous Central Coast evening with bubbling flutes of champagne—in Linda’s case, sparkling cranberry juice. Bill and I had made donations to Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International in honor of each family member. But to our daughter Gabi, we gave actual blankets to take back to the Navajo Reservation where she worked at that time. Bill gave me a certificate for a water buffalo that would help a farmer in Asia.

Last of all, we handed the most beautiful certificate to Linda. We’d purchased and designated a redwood tree to honor her. She once told me, “Trees are a reason for staying alive.” The Linda Luschei tree in Redwood National Park will live far longer than all of us.

That Thanksgiving celebration formed a perfect sphere of joy around the family, except for one troubling incident. Linda was awakened at three in the morning by deliberate footsteps outside the guesthouse where she and Gabi slept. She told us she heard a key turn in the lock, but when she switched the light on, the noise ceased. I thought of my grandmother’s proverb, “Death knocks but does not enter.”

"The Power of Prose"