Joan Didion has been a literary hero of mine for 40 years. Her nonfiction prose is clear, sparse and touching. Perhaps no one has written better about the 60s than she. I have always imagined that our lives were similar in meaning. She too was married to a writer, John Gregory Dunne, whom she loved and admired and felt lucky to share collaborative life with him. When he died suddenly of a heart attack at a dinner on Dec. 30, 2003, I was reminded of my own loss on Dec. 26, 2002.
I have not had the talent to speak about my grief but Joan Didion, in this excerpt from a recent New York Times article, is finding words that are so very right for me:
“Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life…Virtually everyone who writes about grief mentions the phenomenon of ‘waves’…waves lasting from 20 minutes to an hour at a time, a feeling of tightness in the throat, choking with shortness of breath, need for sighing and an empty feeling in the abdomen, lack of muscular power and an intense subjective distress described as tension or mental pains.”
Didion began writing about her husband’s death nine months after he died and finished in a year and a day to the date. Tragically, her only daughter died last month. The book, “The Year of Magical Thinking” will be published next month.
I am so anxious to read the entire text, but for now I am finding solace in the realization that I am reacting as millions of others have before me.
Even one line of poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day,” confirms my reaction to the morning.
I have such good friends who are also making this journey to a country we have never known, and I think of them every day.
Inspiring Spokane women
Wisteria Lane may have desperate housewives, but Spokane will soon have a calendar featuring 12 Spokane women over 40, who look great and have lives to admire. Becky Bales is the creator/producer of the calendar, which will launch next month. It will be available at several locations including Auntie’s Bookstore and Made in Washington. Profits from the calendar will go to “The Shirley and Betty Fund” at the Community Colleges of Spokane to aid women in transition. This is a powerful idea.
Question for New Orleans
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or – does it explode?
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