The bright middle: Jumpha Lahiri’s most recent novel described it as “[a] time of day lacking mystery, only an assertion of the day itself. As if the sky were not meant to darken, the day not meant to end.”
Lately I’ve read some beautifully written books, with very different views of light.
I’ve noticed my artwork (drawings, paintings and quilts) nearly always features a day or night sky, but almost never lingers at the day’s mystery-laden multi-colored margins, relentless images in my photographs. (As George MacDonald remarked, “We are never frightened at sunset.”) At those blurred edges, sun and moon can overlap and intermingle, as when “[a]t times, defiantly, the sun’s glow persisted, a pale disc, its burning contours contained so as to appear solid, resembling a full moon.”
I’ve sometimes wondered why day’s dazzling apex can bring an onslaught of midnight thoughts as black as I first imagined death. The Goldfinch, another gorgeously written book, touches on the common metaphor of waves of grief, then masterfully turns light itself into the lacuna: “sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck which was illuminated in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.”
This is an author, I thought, who truly understands grief.
It’s a birthday on which the light fails to cheer me. I’ve nearly reached the age at which Jim died, and his image is thus fixed in my mind. The idea that I will live longer than he seems cosmically off kilter. Ten days from now he will not celebrate another birthday.
The birthday and holiday season can be as complicated as the light.