This is my latest read and it is very similar to Joan Didion’s book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’.
In fact Joan and Joyce knew each other well, and they both outlived their husbands, and both couples worked in literacy circles. Both widows were also utterly devastated when their husbands unexpectedly and very suddenly died. .
The first chapter is entitled ‘The Message ‘ and her words, I am sure, will resonate with so many people, not just widows but anyone whose loved one has died and their world turned upside down; we instantly behave differently; we think, speak, even move differently. Our concentration evaporates into thin air, as does our memory, common sense and our ability to rationalise things too. .
“Returning to our car that has been haphazardly parked-by me- on a narrow street near the Princeton Medical Center - I see, thrust beneath a windshield wiper, what appears to be a sheet of stiff paper. A parking ticket?” .You see Joyce had parked haphazardly because her husband had been admitted in to the medical centre the previous day with pneumonia and then took a turn for the worse. .
And the sheet of paper was not a parking ticket but a nasty note left by someone, who would not have known the circumstances around the erratic parking - the female driver, who for the first time in her life, had just been hit by a tsunami size cocktail of shock, fear, denial, panic and anger. .”Grief is exhausting and required the strength of an Olympic athlete”. This quote sums up the enormous effort that is required for us to keep going after suffering a traumatic loss. The strength to do this feels at times to be humanly impossible, but step by step we do ‘manage’ to. .
At times though getting out of bed requires super human power, and as Joan says forget getting out of bed, sometimes just opening her eyes was a struggle.
She writes extremely well and I can’t help but feel emotionally exhausted myself at times as I progress through this very personal memoir. .
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