"Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be."
I was feeling a little low this week after a breakup. Not so much over the breakup which is honestly a positive, but that feeling of remorse, of wasted effort and time. In that vein it was really difficult to concentrate on the other books I was reading. I cast them aside momentarily and launched into this. I think mainly to reassure myself that love actually exists, even if it is something that only other people seem to experience for real.
I was late to the Joan Didion bandwagon and yet was well acquainted with the work of her husband. I'd love his writing in Vanity Fair. His style of writing was at once personal and inclusive, while retaining a sense of Hollywood. This depiction of his death and its aftermath is painful and yet beautiful. What a void, a chasm, is created within moments when someone whose whole life is intimately entwined with yours ceases to exist. Is it any wonder that death is such a difficult thing to deal with? One minute you're making shopping lists and discussing the minutiae of life and the next... nothing. Discarded attempts to re-start hearts and noisy sirens.
Dunne's death is not the only horrendous thing that Didion has to deal with; her daughter is, at the same, time, fighting for her life in hospital. Life isn't easy but it seems particularly difficult here. Didion delivers with painstaking eloquence the trauma of her stage of mind and as difficult as it is, there's something reassuring here.
Her relationship with her husband is something so beautifully remembered that makes the loss all the more palpable. I hope one day I finally find someone like that. Someone smart enough to understand what I'm saying, secure enough to be supportive, rather than to denigrate and at the end, some one who will be missed or will miss me. This is in stark contrast to the Dirty John podcast I'm currently listening to, which unfortunately rings way more familiar at this point.
Life, it seems can be over well before you are ready for it. We all deserve a good one and to be loved, and missed. By the end of the book, Joan Didion sounded okay and I think that made the book easier to deal with.
5 out of 5 losses are only possible if you have something to begin with.