Sunday, November 09, 2008


I don’t know why I haven’t posted for so long. I have been reading like a maniac and when I sat down to write this, I wasn’t sure what to start with. So, I thought, the best way to go forward was chronologically. It is especially timely since the book I read after my last post was The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Why timely? November is a hard month for me and my family. It was in November that my step-father Peter died. In fact it was November 28, 2005. I will never forget it. I was there, he died in my arms with my step-brother Savvas and my mom all around us. It changed me forever – for better or for worse, remains to be seen.

I have had this book for quite some time and have been putting off reading it because it is a very personal account by Joan Didion’s of the death of her husband, John Dunne (brother of Dominick Dunne for those of you into the society gossip scene) and the year following. John Dunne died suddenly of a massive coronary in their New York apartment shortly after having a quiet dinner at home. Didion captures that moment and the 12 months post her husband’s death and her grieving process. The added element here is that their daughter Quintana had been in a coma for a while with some unknown viral infection and did not regain consciousness until after her father died and then continued to struggle with illness.

Everything about the circumstances surrounding Didion’s experience are different from my own. Peter was my step-father, not my husband. He battled Stage 4 lung cancer for a year before succumbing – this wasn’t sudden. But grief and pain seem to unite my feelings with Didion’s story. At first I was very sceptical of reading this book for so many reasons. However, soon after I started reading, I was fascinated by her story, how she captured the most minute, seemingly inconsequential details; how she couldn’t remember certain things; how she felt and didn’t feel; how her narrative was at times crystal clear and others completely disjointed. It was all very relevant though completely unrelated.

I still mourn Peter’s loss. I was an adult when he came into my life and he was only with me for 10 years. During that 10 years, I watched him, listened to him, ate many meals, shared many arguments and disagreements, laughed a lot and most importantly felt his love. For my family and many close friends, it’s no secret that I have had a “strained” relationship with my natural father. In the short 10 years he was in my life, Peter taught me so many things (even when I didn’t want to learn them). He was the best father and pappou (grandfather) I could ever ask for.

I was really glad I read The Year of Magical Thinking, and although it made me cry, A LOT, it made me remember. Remembering is something that I am no longer afraid of because although tinged with a little pain and sadness (usually tears appear as well), it fills me with the joy of something I never asked for or expected but nonetheless will be eternally touched by and grateful for: the memory of the unconditional love of a father.

The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
Knopf Publishing Group