"Beyond the End of Everything"
While, thankfully, I have never experienced the trauma of having a baby in the NICU or on a respirator - like Anna did with Ellen - and while my husband was present and actively involved in the births of our children - unlike the fathers of Cerise's children, I could still relate so much to many of both mother's feelings at the births of their children. The burdens of motherhood are so powerfully described in this passage about Anna's feelings following Ellen's birth:
And suddenly a million threats suggested themselves to her. It was as though she were still dilated, still open and unfiltered, as though she were a lens that admitted all possible light, and every shadow. She thought of SIDS and AIDS and hidden heart defects, of strange viruses and untended swimming pools, of childhood cancers and E. coli-laden hamburgers. She remembered all the appalling numbers that filled the newspapers, the thousands of extinctions and billions of pounds of toxic chemicals that threatened the world. She thought of global warming, nuclear winter, and silent spring. Clutching the windowsill and staring down on the city stewing in all its ugly light, she wondered how she could ever feel safe again. [p. 146]
"A Glimpse of the World's Rough Grace"
I love the hope expressed in this quote about Cerise: "It was strange how much the world wanted her back. It was strange no one saw the truth of who she was" (p. 242).
What I loved best about Windfalls was its depiction of motherhood as the truly tough, gritty, and on-our-own thing it is. Anna talks to Honey/Cerise about this idea:
Honey's silence seemed like an open door. "We're all so alone, in mothering," Anna went on, her voice low and raw. "We can talk about how our lkids are doing in school and the cute things they say. We can even complain about how they're driving us nuts. But we can't talk about how much it terrifies us to love them as we do, or talk about how much we scare ourselves, trying to stay sane while we raise them. We can't talk about how much they teach us, how much they cost, us, how much we owe to them. Or- " She shrugged. "Maybe it's just me." [p. 297]
My responses to two of the questions:
- What would you do if your house burned down, leaving you homeless and with no material resources at your command?
Thankfully, if my house burned down, I would have both insurance to eventually replace the house as well as money in the bank. While my family would be unable to survive very long without a regular paycheck, we do have a great deal more material resources than Cerise had. Without those, I'd still have a large family to whom I could turn for help, as well as a church community that would lend support. All of those things are blessings that I probably take for granted.
- How was it a good thing that Anna and Cerise met each other at this time in their lives?
The bringing-together of Anna and Cerise was a perfect climax for this book. Symbolic of how women need other women in their lives - even women with very different lifestyles from their own - Anna's and Cerise's relationship brings healing and growth to them both.