I believe grace, and sometimes understanding, comes when we least expect it. A few days ago, I finished this month's book club read...not unlike a few other times, I was a bit skeptical on whether or not I would get anything out of this book. Of course, as fate would have it, I found it to be a very powerful story. We read The Prisoner of Tehran and I am sure that this will be an interesting night when us girls get to sit around and talk about it. What a courageous novel, and what an unbelievable life to have lived through to be able to talk about! Marina is inspiring, in how she is true to herself, and how she manages to get through the darkest hours of her life.
A few passages really stood out for me. I have taken the liberty to quote a few of them here (taken towards the end of the novel, after she has been released from Evin prison and she is attempting to reintegrate in to her previous life):
"I was going to find my life and reclaim it ... I was happy to see (all my birthday guests), but there was a tangible distance between us, between the girl who had gone and those who lived a normal life. There were uncomfortable pauses in every conversation...It wasn't their fault. Everybody was polite and kind, but that was where it ended. No one wanted to know....Home wasn't the same because I wasn't the same. The comfortable, safe innocence of my childhood was lost for good."
Marina recalls speaking to an older female relative about this, and how no one really was asking her what had happened to her, and how she was truly doing - "The answer is simple. We're afraid to ask because we're afraid of knowing. I think this is some kind of natural defense. Maybe if we don't talk about it, and maybe if we pretend it never happened, it will be forgotten."
Marina reflects that "I expected my homecoming to make things simple again, but it hadn't."
It struck me that in this completely different tale, that I found a thread of what I (and my DH, Ken) experienced when Brandon went through his surgery a few years ago. It was so jarring - the few hours leading up to the event, and then the return to a different but familiar life. No one really wanted to talk to me about it, how it impacted me, how that night after his surgery was for me: that Brandon was doing really well was all that anyone really wanted to know. I remember not having to bring anything for Christmas dinner, and that everything continued on as if nothing had changed, but I had changed, I was different (I can't speak for Ken on that one, I only know me inside, and how the world shifted for me). I wasn't the same person as I was before everything happened. Now, years later, and many experiences later... I have grown in to this new woman. Not totally different, not really the same. I see myself as having gone through fire and have come through stronger, and at times more vulnerable than before. This afternoon, before writing this, I was working on Connor's baby book, and I look at the four of us, and I am blessed. Our story that is unfolding and changing all the time. It has taken me a long time to reach the place where I am talking about things, and I am moving forward. I thank my core family unit, in each of their own ways for that. The Don is a charming, smart, funny little boy. C-man is a cool baby whom has been a real joy, and Ken is my rock, my island in the storm. In the midst of it all is chaos, but in the chaos, is the calm. Somewhere in the middle is us.
In a nutshell, read the book. I found compassion, empathy, and inspiration and I am really glad that it was suggested as a read. One of the really positive aspects of my book club are the books we choose. I don't know how many I would have grabbed if they weren't book of the months for us, but I am grateful for the journeys the stories have brought me on.
It seems I haven't posted a lot this January, but each time I have it has been a novella.