On Light

I wrote in yesterday’s post that I’ll go through the rest of my life doing the same things most other people do, and even some things that they don’t, but I’ll do them differently; like walking, but with a limp. Then today, a bad day, a really bad day, I realized what an understatement that was; at least from today’s perspective. From today’s perspective, that limp is more akin to Quasimodo’s hump. I wish I could say I expect more good days than bad.

Before arriving in Spain, I spent two weeks in Bretagne, France with a dear friend of mine and her new husband. I haven’t written a post about that time because I feel that to do so, at least now, would be to violate her privacy and the trust she places in me every time she allows me to be privy to her secrets, some of which manifest in the form of life in real time. What I did encounter that surprised me and which I feel I can reveal was the story her husband told me, after we went out to dinner with his mother, about his parents. Because I found it so interesting and because it gives one pause and reason to see light at the end of one’s own tunnel, I will tell it to you here, in abbreviated form:

His mother, let’s call her Louise, raised by father and stepmother. Louise’s mother died in childbirth. At the insistence of her maternal grandparents she was handed over to the care of a nursemaid while her father went “abroad.” He returned when she was three years old with a new wife in tow. Louise was 12 years old when her stepmother revealed to her that she wasn’t Louise’s real mother. Louise went to father to ask if this was true, told yes, and furthermore, “it should have been you that died that day, not her.” This helped to explain why she had felt for her entire life like her father was angry with her.

Louise’s maternal grandparents owned an island near St. Malo off the coast of Bretagne. When her mother died, her father was allowed to continue living there but the island was put in trust for Louise. When Louise came of age, she went to England where she found work as secretary to the French Consul in London. She continued to let her father and stepmother live on the island, which they did till he died. Step mother stayed on a few years then moved away.

Louise married the son of the French Consul, call him Pierre, who, as luck would have it, was always cold and distant toward his wife and subsequent three children. Turns out Pierre’s mother tried to kill herself when he was a boy, and to make matters worse, on two occasions she tried to take Pierre with her. When she was older and he was grown she finally did commit suicide.

Someone had an affair. Was it the consul? The consul’s father? Pierre? I wish I had taken notes, or had a better memory.

The kids grew up, Pierre drank himself to death, and Louise lived on her private island alone until the isolation became more than she could bear, at which point she sold it for an undisclosed sum of money and bought a house in St. Malo, the same St. Malo from “All the Light We Cannot See.” A mesmerizing town. Louise, now around 70, a charming, if somewhat abrupt, woman. Or so it would seem. Who knows what’s really on the inside?

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