It is with sadness, regret (and some degree of anger at f-ing cancer) that I share the news that David Clement died today.
David Clement has always existed. A member of the fine class of people known as “my family’s friends,” I have never known a world absent him. He was husband, father and grandfather, a constant person, whose elder daughter Beth was my toddler playmate, and whose younger daughter Alex’s birth I well remember, late as it was in our childhood.
I remember playing “going into labor” with Beth days before her sister was born. I knew nothing about the details of birth. But Beth was going on 9, her mom was pregnant and both her parents were academics/professors/intellects. She knew. Beth said, “Now let’s pretend your water breaks.” I thought she was being mean. “No! I don’t want it to!” I protested. She thoroughly explained what it meant: The baby is coming. Life begins.
I held David Clement’s infant granddaughter in my arms this morning. She has been on this earth for a matter of weeks. My hand fit across her torso. Too fast, this life.
“A good death,” my mom said, “it could be called ‘a good death.’” He was home. He was not in pain. He was with his wife, daughters and closest friend. He had received many people these past weeks; he knew he was much loved. A good death, I suppose, is something to be grateful for.
A good life. I sat in his living room with his family, recalling its rotations through the lifecycle—from picture books to college textbooks and back to baby toys again. I could picture David standing in front of the baby grand that takes up half the room, welcoming everyone to the Clements’ annual music recital, in which friends performed and appreciated each other’s music. I recalled my nervousness at playing the piano in front of an audience. One year it was raining hard outside, and bodies filled the chairs lined up in rows facing that piano, steaming the windows. David welcomed everyone. He stood, tall and proud, and apologized for the “inclement” weather. Everyone laughed. I had no idea what inclement meant. I looked it up later. Since that day, it has always meant the opposite of David.
It is the opposite of the formidable Clement family. Of Alice, his wife, of whom he said, She is the sun. Of Beth and Alex, his daughters, who were his universe.
Who are in my heart on this gray, cold, fittingly inclement day.