I started reading Didion's memoir around 10:30 last night and stayed up until I finished it at 2:30 this morning. She begins by suggesting that "life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant." And, anyone, who has experienced an unexpected death in their life will nod in agreement. Didion's world changed on December 30, 2003 when her husband of 40 years, John Gregory Dunne, suffered a "massive coronary event" at the dinner table in their New York apartment.
What compelled me to continue reading in addition to my own experience with the ongoing grief journey was Didion's "cool customer" approach to retelling the emotional upheaval of the first year of new loss. Hers was complicated by the fact that her only child, Quintana, was in a coma at the same time. Unthinkable timing.
As Didion soldiers on to accommodate the loss in her life she offers the following sage advice: "...if we are to live ourselves, there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead. Let them become the photograph on the table. Let them become the name on the trust accounts. Let go of them in the water."