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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old same...



After Snow Flower died, I still had half of my life ahead of me. My rice-and-salt days were not over, but in my heart I began my years of sitting quietly. For most women, this begins with their husband's death. For me, it began with Snow Flower's death. I was "the one who has not died," but things kept me from being completely still or quiet. My husband and family needed me to be a wife and mother. My community needed me to be Lady Lu. And then there were Snow Flower's children, whom I needed--so that I could make amends to my laotong. But it's hard to be truly generous and behave in a forthright manner when you don't know how. (from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See)

Sometimes words leave me wanting. Like the phrase 'best friend.' I don't know if it's because it is over used, or if it's just lacking of deep meaning, but it feels very inadequate.

I recently read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and in it the word 'laotong...old same' was used, and it came so much closer to the relationship that I mean.

As I drew near the end of the book, I hated to see my time with it over. Then, in the last chapter, I read the paragraph quoted above, and it was as if the writer had reached her hand into my chest and scooped out my heart. She got the grief of an old same for her other half exactly right in those few words.

I was so moved by it, that I did something I have never done before. I wrote a fan letter. Or rather a fan e-mail. Just a note of appreciation for the pleasure reading her work brought to me really...and for letting me know that I don't grieve alone (for how could a writer get something so right if they didn't know and feel it?) And today I received a lovely, and very personal, e-mail reply from the author. It was such a sweet surprise to receive on this very day...the birthday of my old same.

And in memory thereof, I say, I remember and honor you today, Allison. I miss you.

2 comments:

  1. Lovely prose. I must get the book. I treasure my best friend, V, and would feel the same as the described loss of Snow Flower...thanks for sharing this. C

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  2. So lovely when a book speaks to you so deeply, isn't it, Kath? I've only ever written a 'fan letter' once after reading a book, and like you, received a lovely, personal reply from the author.

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