April 10, 2018_ Joan Didion

I watched a film last evening about Joan Didion, produced by the brother of her late husband, John Dunne.  She is a haunting figure now and in some ways I feel a connection that is haunting as well.  Her husband died suddenly on the next to last day of December in 2003.   I remember vividly one Sunday in 2004 probably, sitting in the car reading an article about her.  The article was in connection to a book she wrote (The Year of Magical Thinking).  We were in Connecticut visiting one of Dieter's clients. It was a second visit as I recall, one to take measurements again before he started her project.  The article and the story stayed with me, with a sharp and clear recall, about the journey of losing one's husband so suddenly, so that when three years later my husband died, Joan Didion 's own tragedy, even sadder than my own, flooded back.  Maybe that is why I wrote A Reluctant Life, though at the time that wasn't clear.  But  I couldn't read her book .  Not until I finished mine.  Then I did.  She is a far better writer than I shall ever be, and yet I feel linked to her, and to the honesty of protraying grief in the honest way I did and the amazing way she did.  Her daughter died while she was writing Magical Thinking or just shortly after....she was dead when Magical Thinking became a play and it wasn't till a few years later that she painfully wrote and finished the book Blue Nights...about that experience.  Didion is now a shadow of her physical self.  Grown old and frail and while always thin, now her skin is only lightly draped on her bones...but she lives.  Her speech  her words are short, brief, accompanied by almost wild hand and arm gestures to express those words. The smile is almost a grimace. The sadness pierces her every movement, and yet she lives. She is still heroically, hauntingly significant.