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poached| Joan Didion on Death 10 May 2008

Posted by EDITOR in Psychology, Relationships.

When something happens to me, he would frequently say.

Nothing will happen to you, I would say.

But if it does.

If it does, he would continue. If it did, for example, I was not to move to a smaller apartment. If it did I would be surrounded by people. If it did I would need to make plans to feed these people. If it did I would marry again within the year.

You don’t understand, I would say.

And in fact he did not. Nor did I: we were equally incapable of imagining the reality of life without the other. This will not be a story in which the death of the husband or wife becomes what amounts to the credit sequence for a new life, a catalyst for the discovery that (a point typically introduced in such accounts by the precocious child of the bereaved) “you can love more than one person.” Of course you can, but marriage is something different. Marriage is memory, marriage is time. “She didn’t know the songs,” I recall being told that a friend of a friend had said after an attempt to repeat the experience.

– Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), written after the death of her husband of forty years.



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