I’m beginning this book on All Saints’ Day in Paris, six months after Brice’s death. This morning I went with Brice’s brother and his brother’s lover to the Père Lachaise cemetery to leave some flowers before the white marble plaque that marks the niche where Brice’s ashes are stored in an urn. At first there wasn’t a receptacle for flowers and we’d just leave them on the cold floor, where they’d quickly wilt. But then someone–the Spanish woman who cleaned for us once a week, perhaps–attached a little brass vase to the plaque, and that’s where we put the flowers now. Today I left yellow fressias. Someone had Scotchtaped the photo of a young man to Brice’s plaque and I wondered if it was a secret admirer who’d left his own portrait; retrospectively I was jealous. Maybe it was a photo of one of the other dead young men that had been taped to our plaque by mistake.
–Edmund White, The Farewell Symphony