Within days of subscribing to The Journal, I received the Spring/Summer 2011 Issue. Last night I read Jessica Hollander’s story “What Became of What She Had Made.” Here’s an excerpt:
“‘I’m sleeping with someone at my office’, the husband said. “I can’t tell Olivia. I can’t stop fucking the woman.” He pulled to a stoplight. Lynette felt the car’s vibrations in her cheeks.
“Are you going to tell her?” he asked.
Lynette didn’t want to know about this, and Olivia wouldn’t either. “She’d feel bad about it.”
“Seems like the kind of information a mother would get across best.”
She wanted her daughters to be good and proud and happy. She wanted them to love and trust that she was a good mother. “I’d rather she believe she has a happy life.”
He pulled into her driveway in Appleridge. It was a community for retired people. Tired and then retired, like old food dried out and zapped in the microwave.
He leaned his head against the steering wheel. “Nobody’s happy.”
“Sure we are.” Her girls were in pieces. They didn’t belong to her anymore. “Watch us smile.'”
The story is about a mother and her two daughters. About violences large and small. About trying to recover the unrecoverable. About knowing what to hold onto and of what to let go.
Maybe it had nothing or everything to do with Jessica Hollander’s “What Became of What She Had Made,” but as I struggled to sleep last night I recalled and silently repeated that excerpt from Reinhold Neibuhr’s “The Serenity Prayer” (1926):
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.