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The Year of Magical Thinking book cover

The Year of Magical Thinking Quotes

A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.
Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.
we are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. as we are no longer. as we will one day not be at all.
I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.
We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.
I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response.
Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
I am a writer. Imagining what someone would say or do comes to me as naturally as breathing.
It occurs to me that we allow ourselves to imagine only such messages as we need to survive.
Marriage is memory, marriage is time. Marriage is not only time: it is also, parodoxically, the denial of time.
We imagined we knew everything the other thought, even when we did not necessarily want to know it, but in fact, I have come to see, we knew not the smallest fraction of what there was to know.
I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted.
We were not having any fun, he had recently begun pointing out. I would take exception (didn't we do this, didn't we do that) but I had also known what he meant. He meant doing things not because we were expected to do them or had always done them or should do them but because we wanted to do them. He meant wanting. He meant living.
Why do you always have to be right. Why do you always have to have the last word. For once in your life just let it go.
despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago. We might, in that indeterminate period they call mourning, be in a submarine, silent on the ocean’s bed, aware of the depth charges, now near and now far, buffeting us with recollections.
There was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible.
As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs...The way I write is who I am, or have become...
I wanted to get the tears out of the way so I could act sensibly.
I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.
prepare a little hot tea or broth and it should be brought to them . . . without their being asked if they would care for it. Those who are in great distress want no food, but if it is handed to them, they will mechanically take it ' ... There was something arresting about the matter-of-fact wisdom here, the instinctive understanding of the physiological disruptions... I will not forget the instinctive wisdom of the friend who, every day for those first few weeks, brought me a quart container of scallion-and-ginger congee from Chinatown. Congee I could eat. Congee was all I could eat.
Mourning has its place but also its limits.
How could this have happened when everything was normal?.
We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.
Dolphins, I learned from J. Worden of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been observed refusing to eat after the death of a mate. Geese had been observed reacting to such a death by flying and calling, searching until they themselves became disoriented and lost.
Leis go brown, tectonic plates shift, deep currents move, islands vanish, rooms get forgotten.
...nor can we know ahead of the fact the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself.
But one no longer has the right to say so aloud.
It was in fact the ordinary nature of everything preceding the event that prevented me from truly believing it had happened, absorbing it, incorporating it, getting past it. I recognize now there was nothing unusual in this: confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings were the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy.
The death of a parent, he wrote, 'despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago...
Persons under the shock of genuine affliction are not only upset mentally but are all unbalanced physically. No matter how calm and controlled they seemingly may be, no one can under such circumstances be normal. Their disturbed circulation makes them cold, their distress makes them unstrung, sleepless.
The power of grief to derange the mind has in fact been exhaustively noted.
These people who have lost someone look naked because they think themselves invisible.
It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string, then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there’s an impassable fron-tierpost across it. So many roads once; now so many cul de sacs.
I bought new strings of colored lights. This served as a profession of faith in the future. I take the opportunity for such professions where and when I can invent them, since I do not yet actually feel this faith in the future.
Because we were both writers and both worked at home our days were filled with the sound of each other's voice.
here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.
The mourner is in fact ill, but because this state of mind is common and seems so natural to us, we do not call mourning an illness…. To put my conclusion more precisely: I should say that in mourning the subject goes through a modified and transitory manic-depressive state and overcomes it.