Dear Ms. Didion,
Between my 38th birthday and my 39th a lot of bad things happened to me. About six months after that my mother gave me a copy of The Year of Magical Thinking. It was in a
stack of books she picked up somewhere–the thrift shop or a library
sale; of no particular significance. I devoured it and then became
consumed with it.
“Hey, I just read The Year of Magical Thinking,”
I said to a small gathering of friends, and they all turned to me
nodding, in much the same way that you would nod to someone who had just said
“Hey, I just started using deodorant!”
It contains some of the best descriptions I have ever read about, yes, the way one
feels when life becomes a waking nightmare–but also, the way other
people treat you under those circumstances. Especially in the hospital. I
have no doubt that while I was screaming and dying inside I was
considered a pretty cool customer.
So then I read Slouching Towards Bethlehem and recognized the reflections on the Santa Ana winds, which my father brings up often, being like so many men a bit of a weather fanatic. I
picked up “What a thing to wear to Ralphs,” a phrase that flits through
my mind daily during the summer in my shore town.
I want to thank you for so vividly bringing to life both the ordinary–the
daily viewing of a TV show shared with your husband–and the
extraordinary, the way that one’s husband can suddenly cease to be.
I carry your words in my heart.