Light & Dark

I’ve started four books this month and I can’t finish any of them. I blame me, not the books. I can’t focus. Books are my preferred escape, but what do you do when you find you can’t even read? It’s disconcerting and I don’t like it.

Nor can I think of anything to write about. A big list of Jack’s antics and destruction is so boring to me. It happens everyday and writing about it is repetitive and lame. Also, nothing seems funny right now. We are stuck in another weekend that needs to end. There is no humor in it.

And I can’t speak. I have literally lost my voice. The plague settled on my vocal cords and the best I can do now is a hoarse whisper. My verbally robust family has taken to stage whispering when they speak to me. We walk around doing noisy, normal household things and we speak in hushed tones to each other. It’s eerie.

No books, no words, no voice. Make it stop.

The last book I managed to finish was All The Light We Cannot See, an intricate and lovely story spinning a web of French and German characters dragged unwittingly into the nightmare of World War II. A synopsis of this book would take several pages. Just ask Dutch, who listened to a bare-bones retelling by moi on one of our recent date nights. It took at least twenty minutes. Good husbands are interested listeners.

So I won’t summarize it. 

Like the best books, All The Light We Cannot See has stayed with me after completion. The characters are real to me, and their suffering part of my own. I witnessed Marie-Laure’s childhood in Paris and Werner’s in a German orphanage. They feel a bit like my own children, which may sound presumptuous, but is genuine. I wanted to stand by their sides and tell them they were good and brave and I loved them. 

While all books about war contain difficult images to read, the thing from ATLWCS which lingers just beneath the the surface of my memory is that of unseen radio waves and human kindness. Unseen things are real, like Etienne’s broadcasts beaming through the night into an enemy country, explaining truth, followed by Debussy.

My brain feels muddled and inept, like my voice. 

I am, though, mulling the story of the people and the war that converged on Saint Malo in 1944. I feel dull and washed-up, but this story managed to illuminate the precariousness of life and the thread of goodness that ties people together even in darkness.

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