Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Year of Magical Thinking (2)

From pages 62-122 or chapter 5 to chapter 11 the book focuses on Quintana's heath problems and various hospitalizations. It is hard to believe Didion has enough energy to face these huge medical emergencies. I see how she balances on the fence of sanity. The belief that your husband really isn't dead although you watch as they place his ashes in the cathedral vault, is a little unbalanced.

Didion finds a study to explain why she doesn't grieve for her husband. If "a delay in the funeral" is caused by "an illness or second death in the family" one might put the process off to attend to the more urgent need. She then becomes rather mad at the author of the study when he goes on about "the patient's need to keep the lost one alive." He explains it demonstrates an unbalanced mind, thus Didion is un-balanced.

I have to agree with Didion and Emily Post on the funeral etiquette. Only family and intimate friends should sit near the front of a funeral service. I love the idea of a relative staying in the home to tidy up while others attend the funeral. The act of handing warm tea or broth to the returning widow instead of asking them if they would care for any is brilliant. No one would actually turn down the warm container once found in their hands, but if asked, would surely refuse. That Emily Post is one smart cookie!

Didion's explains a memory trigger and the accompanying journey back in time as a vortex. She actively avoids routes or places that trigger the uncontrollable vortex that follows. What a unique word for this natural human occurrence. I find that reading stimulates memories and slows down my progress. Sometimes it is a situation and sometimes dialog, but once I drift into the memory I'm gone for a good fifteen minutes. No avoiding the unseen, I would have to stop reading altogether.

I want to thank Mrs. Didion for her explanation of fixed and dilated pupils(FDP). I have seen the same reaction in my dogs when they die, but lacked the vocabulary to define it. Our beloved Reba's eyes actually blackened then brightened again after fluid was administered for heat stroke.

This is an observation and NOT a criticism or judgment...Didion talks about the Catholic or Episcopalian churches they attend [ed] (funerals, weddings, masses, sermons) yet she hasn't mentioned any prayer. She is writing in a step-by-step, not to forget any detail, that if she took a moment to pray, feels like she would have mentioned it. Her demeanor is so honest I have to believe she just didn't pray.

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