Quotes from Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg

It’s a book about loss, grief and regret, but also about survivors, that’s why I thought those quotes would be better today than any review, or my commentary to the unbelievable horror that happened yesterday…

“She was, she sensed sharply as she reached the far side of the parking lot, an untouchable. Not from scorn or fear, but from the obscenity of the loss.”

“She has no one to call, no one to rush home to. But when has she? She reviews the few possibilities […] None of these people were ever hers. They either belonged to someone else or had lives or lies that put them out of reach, or should have. This is not news, but what surprises her, after being alone for so long, is that it’s only now that it feels unbearable.”

“She circles the idea again and again—that no choice she might make would have any impact on her or anyone else. Before now she would have felt exhilarated by the idea of existing without obligation or consequence, but the experience is nothing like she once imagined.”

“I remember looking at him and feeling furious that he was exempt from responsibility, untouched by struggle. This is, of course, what you are supposed to want for your children, but in that moment it seemed unfair. What I wanted was to hit him, shake him violently, rattle his calm, and inflict some of what I was experiencing.”

“Mostly, I’ve made my peace with the mistakes I’ve made, but every so often I bump into a memory and it will sit me right down. Not swarming my boy with attention and love in those early years, not grabbing his hand and pulling him toward me as much as I could have, letting him disappear to boarding school because it felt at the time like one less thing to worry about. These are the regrets that slip and drop down, and when they do, there is nothing to be done, no action I can take to make it better. I just let them come for as long as they will.”

“We talk less now. There are car rides and Sunday mornings and entire meals when Mimi and I don’t speak a word to each other. Not out of anger or punishment, but we’ve learned that grief can sometimes get loud, and when it does, we try not to speak over it.”

“The second prayer was a selfish one. Shoulder to shoulder on that beach I couldn’t bear the idea of losing any of them. Yet I knew we would, one by one, lose each other.”

“Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up young in a house with your mother watching. And even if it’s to be that mother. Someone down the line might need to know you got through it.”

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska

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