Monday, September 15, 2008


Magical Thinking

In her memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion wrote that she spent much of the first year after her husband died secretly expecting him to come back. Thus she could not get rid of his shoes; he would need them when he returned. This moment sticks with me because I too am rather plagued by magical thinking. In some ways, it's a habit I'm not eager to give up.

Just today, I thought to myself, I wonder what my father thinks about Lehman's collapse? I forgot to tell him I heard over the weekend that this would happen and that Wachovia is next.

And then I remembered that he is dead and I can't tell him. And then I thought to myself that he hasn't been dead for too long, so perhaps there still was time to fit the information in before he was dead. Yes. That is actually something that I thought. Not quite so slowly--all this happened in a split second--but still my mind couldn't help but work this way.

When we negotiated down his hospital bill--the amount we had to pay to keep him "alive" just so I could say goodbye--I wanted to tell him. I wanted to say, "You would be so proud! We got the bill down!" And then I remembered that the only reason there had been a bill in the first place was because . . . he was gone.

I have regularly recurring dreams in which he shows up to tell me that it is all a mistake, and that he is not dead. I wake up in tears. My mother says I have to tell him that he is no longer alive. One of these days, I imagine that I will succeed and then the dreams will stop.

But then, he'll really be gone. (Ahem, you say, he really is.)

See what I mean?

I think that people *do* live on as long as they are thought of. Sure, it may be only figurative, but that's still significant.
It's true. I often know what my father would have said, which makes me grateful for all the time I did have wit him.
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