How beautiful, and how strange, the sense of continuity, harmony, and balance that keeps a lifetime of writing and reading suspended, as it were, or meaningfully afloat — such is memory — and as I hold my glass up to the light, I am surprised to find it still full.
He went to the window and closed the drapes. His typewriter on the table looked like an anchor. For a moment he imagined it tied around his neck, and sinking with it into the Pacific Ocean, into the darkness of a watery grave. Then he imagined his mother sitting at the typewriter with her arms outstretched, trying to type the words hungry and lonely. He thought she must have been very lonely before she died, and wondered if there wasn’t something he could have done to make the last months of her life more tolerable. As always, he came up with the same answer: No. What else could he have done other than visit her, hold her hand, and talk? What else could anyone have done? Send in the clowns? Pray for a miraculous recovery? One of the local ministers visited her every so often, and she acted as if he weren’t there, which wasn’t far from the truth. What good was a stranger with juvenile ideas of an afterlife, when what you needed was the ability to speak with your son? What good was his distracted mumbling, when what you needed was to see your dead husband, and to hear the comforting sound of his voice?
From Chapter 6 of The Smiling Eyes of Children,
an unpublished novel written in 2001