Written by Joan Didion
Blue Nights, 2011
John always said we moved “back” to New York.
I never did.
Brentwood Park was then, New York was now.
Brentwood Park before the Vikane had been a time, a period, a decade, during which everything had seemed to connect.
Our suburbia house in Brentwood.
It was exactly that. She called it.
There had been cars, a swimming pool, a garden.
There had been agapanthus, lilies of the Nile, intensely blue starbursts that floated on long stalks. There had been gaura, clouds of tiny white blossoms that became visible at eye level only as the daylight faded.
There had been English chintzes, chinoiserie toile.
There had been a Bouvier des Flandres motionless on the stair landing, one eye open, on guard.
Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.
Even memory of the stephanotis in her braid, even memory of the plumeria tattoo showing through the tulle.
It is horrible to see oneself die without children. Napoléon Bonaparte said that.
What greater grief can there be for mortals than to see their children dead. Euripedes said that.
When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.
I said that.
© 2011 Joan Didion; New York: Alfred A. Knopf