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August 2010

"Love, old age, and Moose"

A short, lovely piece. Every word counts. Every sentence shines.

And which reminded me, a bit, of another piece. A staggeringly beautiful-but-horrifying piece published exactly seven years ago. I linked to it in the early days of my blog, but for those who missed it, it's Nancy Farghalli's "Nothing Left to Say". Here's the first half:

On my last day of work at the Stanford admissions office, a student worker motioned me over. ''Nancy, I got a reaction call for you,'' she said, giving me a paper with a name and number on it. It was July. Reaction-call season -- those hairy weeks after the decision letters are mailed -- was long over.

''Is she angry?'' I asked.

''No, her daughter never even applied.''

She lowered her voice: ''She knows you. She says her daughter was murdered.'' Sometimes I would avoid returning calls to let a caller's wrath evaporate. I didn't recognize the caller's name, and I might have sat on this one, but it was my last day.

I dialed. ''Hello, is Christine there?''

''Yes, this is she,'' the voice said. ''You know why I called.''

''Your daughter was killed,'' I said, horrified.

''No,'' she responded, quietly, ''my entire family was murdered.'' She listed them one by one. ''Melanie, Stan, Stuart and my youngest, Michelle. Michelle's father, my ex-husband, killed them.'' Both sons died in their sleep, she said, from gunshot wounds to their hearts. A bullet killed Melanie at the age of 17.

How could my colleague not have told me about the whole family? How could I not have heard about these murders? I could feel myself breathing. But I couldn't figure out what to say.

Christine waited for me to speak, then said, ''You can't be a mother if you don't have kids.''

Suddenly, the news overwhelmed me, and I vomited on my desk. I turned to face the wall. I couldn't ask Christine to call me back. I couldn't put it off. I wouldn't be there tomorrow. Sweat raced down my back, pooling at the waist of my pants. Christine asked if I know what happens once everyone leaves after the funeral is over. People cut holes in the carpet to get rid of the blood. They paint the walls. The smell buries the scent of your children. You redecorate, and the rooms stay empty.

Another beautifully written piece

George Will, last Thursday, "Skip the lecture on Israel's 'risks for peace'". It starts this way:

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam. During the onslaught, which began 10 Septembers ago, Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner.

And here are two heart-stopping sentences from near the end:

And if the Jewish percentage of the world's population were today what it was when the Romans ruled Palestine, there would be 200 million Jews. After a uniquely hazardous passage through two millennia without a homeland, there are 13 million Jews.