In the weeks and months following the death of a loved one, I experienced emotions and disorientation that seemed so foreign to me. I would walk through the grocery store -- not exactly in a daze, but it was as if the light were different, or perhaps it was the quality of the sound. I was not connected. Looking at the people around me as they hefted a melon or checked the expiration date on a gallon of Clover milk, it struck me that perhaps half the people there had experienced what I was experiencing right then, and I had never known. I'd never really even suspected.
Early on in my grieving process, an old friend got in touch and told me that after his parents had died (within two weeks of each other) it had taken him two years to fully recover. As I stumbled forward, letting bills go past due just because I couldn't face anything with a deadline, missing appointments, his few words became my lifeline, the kindest thing anyone could have said to me. Partly, I suppose, it was the promise that this, too, would pass. But mostly it was the permission to grieve. I needed permission to grieve.
Back on track now some years later, reading Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, I think, "She is offering not so much an explanation, but a clear description that I had not found anywhere else, and she is offering permission."
I don't really know if I liked this book or not. Here's my problem - I liked the story and the uplifting nature of it. I liked what she had to say. I liked that she was honest about herself. I didn't like HOW she wrote. Very flowery, strewn with lines of poetry and clips from other books. But... it made me think. I've only ever lost grandparents. I've never lost a parent, a child, or a partner. What would my life be like, how would I feel, would I feel "mudgy" for that first year? What is her life like now? Did the fog lift for her? Would it lift for me. Everyone that knows me knows that I'm a very independent person. "I don't need no man". But. My husband means the world to me. I've been married to him for 14 years, we've worked together for the past 2 years. I genuinely like to be around him. As she opens her book, "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant." How very true, and sad at the same time. I don't think about it often, but I did leave this book wondering how I would cope if something were to happen to my own husband. I don't know that I would have the ability to write about it. For that, my hat goes off to the author. She did a good job of bringing me into her world. Worth a read.
I really enjoyed this heartfelt novel about the author's coming to terms with her husband's untimely death. At first I thought she was repeating herself a bit but once you get to the end you realize she is taking you on her journey of mourning and her dealings with each stage of grief. (Wording is not quite right, but i hope you get the gist). I recommend this book definitely.
This is one of my books I will never swap! It is so amazing - tragically written. You actually feel her confusion during her year of grief. Didion is an amazing writer. I highly recommend this book!
Now I understand how I got through the year of teaching that began the day after my younger son's memorial service. It is indeed magical thinking, magically written.