Things Fall Apart is a title that frequently has popped into my mind during the past few years.
Its author, Chinua Achebe, lived three decades longer than my husband, but died on the same March day.
Where does “escape” fit into this?
Nelson Mandela described Achebe as “the writer in whose company the prison walls came down.”
Achebe’s prose contained the immense power of escape, of transport and a kind of freedom–possibly for the Nigerian author, who was paralyzed in a car accident and confined to a wheelchair, as well as for his world-wide audience.
Words can reveal, can take us away, can help us drift to sleep and pull us back to our waking lives. Billy Collins wrote:
All late readers know this sinking feeling of falling
into the liquid of sleep and then rising again
to the call of a voice that you are holding in your hands,
as if pulled from the sea back into a boat
where a discussion is raging on some subject or other,
on Patagonia or Thoroughbreds or the nature of war.
Is there a better method of departure by night
than this quiet bon voyage with an open book,
the sole companion who has come to see you off,
to wave you into the dark waters beyond language?
I can hear the rush and sweep of fallen leaves outside
where the world lies unconscious, and I can feel myself
dissolving, drifting into a story that will never be written,
letting the book slip to the floor where I will find it
in the morning when I surface, wet and streaked with daylight.
Words considerably less fluid and magnificent than Achebe’s and Collins’ form my own daily escape in so many ways, including the paradoxical escape that writing this blog provides: writing about what I miss beyond words somehow helps me break through the walls of my grief and join a wider world, realizing I am far from alone.