I'm going to postpone my series of Little Old Ladies due to unforeseen circumstances.
You see, dear reader, this past week one of my aunts died, suddenly, unexpectedly. I was in shock for several days. Even now it doesn't seem real.
Is it strange that books feel more real than this?
I live so much of my life through books. But sometimes the world we find in books is insufficient for equipping us for the unexpected, unplotted eventualities of reality. In books we usually can tell by foreshadowing or characterization when death is going to take one of the characters out of the equation. Even when it does shock the readers, the loss of a fictional character is hardly preparatory for dealing with the real thing.
There's an ache, a void, a pathetic needling of our conscious against our subconscious whenever we happen to forget that the loved one is, in fact, gone. There's embarrassment, which careens into full-blown guilt, at having forgotten such a monumental thing, even for a millisecond, even in our dreams. And then a wave of sorrow comes back afresh, and it's like that person--for they are real people, not characters--has died all over again.
Books have taught me a great many things in my life. How to cook and sew and do how-to things like that. How to "read" people, to delve into psychological reasons, to philosophize, to sympathize, to empathize. It has taught me about loyalty and love and regret and bitterness and hope and perseverance.
Indeed, books have given me a better appreciation of life.
But it has not taught me how to understand death.