Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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I couldn’t see the loaves in her oven, but I could smell them. They smelled like the perfect weight of blankets on a winter night; like the loving and attentive parents I thought I deserved; like the solution to every natty problem that might crop up in life.
A stolen letter, a posthumous package, a Christmas card from a stranger
I read all the literature hospice brought: Give the gift of comfort and calm. Give them support, permission. Give them more than they gave you.
Some treat shiva purely as a party. Some have a mournful air. Some look deeply into your eyes, and you can see that they have suffered, too. This is the higher purpose of suffering: to inspire deep-eyed compassion. It’s one of those truisms that is actually true.
A trip to the Antarctic, a 500-mile pilgrimage, a two-hour bus ride
Chinese New Year in Philadelphia, Thanksgiving in Mexico, Passover in prison
When Sarah’s mother, Penny, got sick four years into our marriage, we decided to move back to Mississippi, considering it penance for the sins of our youth. We signed a lease on a house, a white one-story on the historical register with a wraparound porch and angels, stars, and the moon painted on the transom above the front door.