This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite. This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.
“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman
There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.
I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.
So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.
“So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.” – Clay from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I’ve written several times about my friend Cathy. Once again I am reminded of our friendship. It was much like this – a bright haze of loyalty. A nebula; a mist that has dissipated into memory.
We took turns picking up the check when we went out to eat. I did the driving because of her illness, and she often surprised me with little gifts. And big ones – like concert tickets to see Loretta Lynn, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations & The Four Tops. I learned so much from her, especially from the way she treated people. She was kind and compassionate, especially to the underdog.
Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. – James 4:14
The prompt for Day 25 of PAD was “exercise”. In a round about way I turned to thoughts of Cathy, my best friend who died on March 8th. This poem can’t begin to convey our friendship, but it was helpful for me to write it. Before the poem, though, I’d like to share a word that’s new to me but fits right in here –
Propinquity– the state of being close to someone; close kinship
My friend Cathy and I experienced propinquity.
All those excursions we took before I left come back to me now in photographs we walked the downtown streets to bookstores and cafes laughing at inside jokes from our youth You were so witty We scoured antique stores for handkerchiefs and old jewelry and hidden treasures and since you could no longer exercise, you traded me your Zumba CDs for my glass chickens And now I’m miles away and you are gone, but I still look for handkerchiefs that I know you would have liked