Roger Rosenblatt is a friend of mine. He doesn't know me from a hole in the wall, of course, but he's one of those literary friends we readers have. Like some relationships, actual and not quite, our friendship comes and goes, drifting as we (okay, I) get caught up in other things. I haven't read Roger for a spell, and then there he is in the December 15th, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, which I was reading in the early morning of the second day of this new year. An essay called "Making Toast" about how he and his wife have moved into his grandchildren's home to help care for them after the sudden death of his daughter, Amy.
I have always liked his work for its intelligence, his high hitting moments of grace, his wit and his sorrow in what feels like a great fondness for the human race. I often find guidance in his writing, the kind that you get over coffee with a good friend, the one who reminds you to be the person you were meant to be. Here, he writes of something so awful that words only open the window to it, what you see in the view depends, I think, on how your life has played out so far. Yet, astonishingly, even in sharing such difficult circumstance with the kind of heartbreak that catches your breath, he still offers something, words on how to live your life, to value the passing time.
I hope everyone tracks down the issue (library, people!) and reads this essay. The book he reviewed, from where he borrows a deeply moving quote, sounds worth tracking down as well.