Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  140 / 194 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 140 / 194 Next Page
Page Background


Maybe it’s that you interpret everything in a literal sense,

something you’ve always been guilty of.

The time has come to reflect on this point: What exactly is

the literal meaning of a sentence like this? It’s not an

infrequent one. When couples have been together for a

while, to prove their devotion, they get in the habit of

saying things like: “I couldn’t conceive of life without you.” I

just opened a book by Saul Bellow and found a dedication

to his wife: “To Janis, the star without whom I could not

navigate.” And I thought: This needs to be substantiated. If

Janis dies, will he navigate? Will he continue navigating?

What are we expressing when we say this? The intensity

that cannot be expressed in any other way? And, to what

degree is this just a figure of speech?

I had no doubt that in our case the sentence expressed a

deep-felt desire. Even more so for me: We writers are often

fragile, often dependent on someone who is by our side

and who is everything: admired character, constant source

of inspiration, unlimited support, teacher, love, lover. Not

only did I take these sentences very seriously, but I have

always been surprised to discover that there are couples

who are prepared to survive the other without the slightest

compunction. After he died I remember a friend telling me,

“Fortunately, he had the heart attack after he got home,

and not a few hours before while driving.” Since I’d always

thought that the prospect of the family dying together was