July 16, 2007


On a darkening winter afternoon I came to see them in their upstairs bedroom. His head, resting on a pillow, now had a kind of skeletal beauty; he could speak only little, forcing out a few words with increasing difficulty; near the foot of his bed she sat huddled in a wheelchair at a table, uttering a few sensible words, not many. I went out, crushed with sadness; and then Pamela, my wife-to-become, soothed me quietly: ‘They were together for so long; they are together now; in the same room; aware of each other; still alive.’

--John Lukacs of George and Annelise Kennan, quoted by Daniel McCarthy.

1 comment:

TK said...

A woman at my office tells me of her neighbors--78 and 79, from Belgium, whose house burned to the ground some months ago; she'd left a candle burning in the kitchen, and when she walked back into the room it was engulfed. A fireman thought to carry out a 2-drawer filing cabinet, and in that arbitrary moment the things in that cabinet became the precious jewels of their lives: a few photos, some old papers, a set of spoons. They had no children; they were separated by a war, and when they were reunited she was unable to conceive. Now they live in their driveway, in a pop-up camper supplied by the insurance company until their home is rebuilt.

All I can think is that a lifetime of accumulations are gone for them, and they need to value their lives in terms I am not prepared to use to size up my own: terms that are apart from children, and from the sweetness we draw from things we accumulate. If we wipe away the footprints, we've only got the invisible stuff left.

Which somehow reminds me of what you've written here. Sad. And beautiful.