“Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant.”
Thus began The Year of Magical Thinking, a book I started to read and couldn’t continue reading because it was so close to home, but couldn’t leave unfinished as well for the very same reason.
I’ve been curious about this book for so long but never got around to reading it. So when I visited Jewel’s house a few weeks ago and saw it on her bookshelf, I just had to borrow it. And that’s when I knew that the reason why I never it read before is because I wouldn’t have appreciated it then the way I do now.
The book is about the death of a loved one, in this case, of the author Joan Didion’s husband for forty years. It is so excellently, wonderfully, brilliantly written that I don’t deem myself worthy of reviewing it, except to say that it was so excellently, wonderfully, brilliantly written. (I guess the fact that I repeated myself in one sentence just proves how it was , indeed, excellently, wonderfully, brilliantly written. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that). So this is not a review, but a recommendation to all those who are experiencing or have experienced grief to read the book. Among the books I’ve read on the topic of grief— and I’ve read so many, believe me— this ranks high up there, possibly next only to CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed. I personally have a lot to thank Ms. Didion for because she lent voice to all the emotions I cannot even verbalize. I particularly resonated with these words from her book:
” Until now I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention. Until now there had been every urgent reason to obliterate any attention that might otherwise have been paid, banish the thought, bring fresh adrenaline to bear on the crisis of the day.”
I read these lines a few days ago, just when I was beginning to realize that 90 days after my father died, I haven’t been paying serious attention to how I can turn his death into a celebration of his life. And while I cry and allow myself to be sad every time I remember him, I haven’t been handling grief in a manner that leads to mourning, which, I think, is the only way I can move past the paralyzing effect of my loss.
There’s a lot more to be said about the book,but I’m afraid my words won’t give justification to the masterpiece that it actually is. So instead, I’ll end this by saying thank you to Ms. Didion for pointing out to me what nobody else has pointed out: That maybe I have grieved enough; it’s now my time to mourn.