IN THE CENTER OF THE NIGHT: Journey Through a Bereavement by Jayne Blankenship

IN THE CENTER OF THE NIGHT: Journey Through a Bereavement

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Harvey Kantor was 31 years old, a historian and professor, when he died of leukemia. In this wrenching diary, his widow chronicles the first years after his death--weaving together dreams, thoughts, and conversations with daily routines, and the progress of four-year-old Jordan. Some days the concerns are mundane--like the effort of simply taking care of Jordan's physical needs. Sometimes dreams dominate and terrify: Harvey returning hostile, returning loving, returning decayed and other-worldly. From Blankenship's reflections on the past, there emerges a picture of the overwhelming sequence of events in her life: her father died, her son was born, and her husband received a fatal diagnosis almost simultaneously. Eventually, she tells the hardest part of her story--breaking the news to Jordan: ""I climb the stairs and find Jordan, take him up, and in the rocker where I nursed him, explain what cannot be."" An eerie roll of double-exposed film turns up--pictures of Jordan superimposed on Harvey's image: ""in one image their mouths. . . brush in a soft kiss. In another Harvey's hand, holding a small leaf, reaches down into Jordan's chest. In yet another Jordan's arms cradle his father's shadowed head--dark, decapitated, with what looks like blood (a little tree?) running from his mouth."" By the third anniversary of Harvey's death, Blankenship has become patient and understanding of her pain. ""I seem now to be able to pluck an hour out of a day's despair and declare it a sanctuary, an hour for yielding, opening, learning. . . a distancing from physical pain."" Compelling.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Putnam