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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here If You Need Me

Towards the end of her book Here If You Need Me Kate Braestrup talks about how the death of her first husband Drew, so loving and loved, holds itself in paradox. If he had lived, she wouldn't have gone into the ministry, met wonderful people, became deeply rooted in Thomaston, completed books, married happily again. She can hold both realities - his senseless death, her rich life - "on the one hand and on the other, just like that."

Setting aside any religious reasons for this remarkable point of view (she is a Unitarian Universalist, after all!), I hope that the state of Maine has a good deal to do with the state of her mind. She hints that it does - the mix of natural and human discourse, the sense of community, inspiring beauty all around. There's plenty of tragedy here too but small-town Maine seems to provide the tools to deal with it. My favorite story from the book: Warden Hannah Robitaille sets out to do some repairs on a remote warden camp in January. Her snowmobile quits in the middle of the lake on the way over, and she has to walk, in bitter cold and snow and dark, winds blowing, her life in danger. She prays but not for help. She prays, "God, this is great: I'm getting paid for this!"

And if she had died, a thousand people would have attended her funeral.

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