23 December 2021

two women

Joan Didion has died in her home today. A sharp mind, an observer and capable to express in words what we only guessed as true. These are three of the many quotes from her that I have underlined, copied and pasted, scribbled and memorised over the years:

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

What it was like to open the door to the stranger and find that the stranger did indeed have the knife. (on being diagnosed with MS)

There must be a mistake: only yesterday I was in my fifties, my forties, only yesterday I was thirty-one.

Joan Didion


And in another part of the world, in Dublin, our sweet Nuala died peacefully at age 102. She was quite another soul, gentle, kind, always helpful. We took her for granted and she loved us for it, unreservedly. I've written about her here.

These two could not have been more different and yet, they both made a difference, enriched my life so much.


  1. Joan lived one hell of a life and she certainly took note and shared honestly.
    I am so glad that Nuala went peacefully and that she was a part of your life and you of hers.

  2. I'm completely unfamiliar with Joan Didion except for the times you have quoted her here. and Nuala. Don't know what to say about her. The last of a family.

  3. Good to know that the long lives of Joan Didion and Nuala ended peacefully. The strength to love in two very different women.

  4. I liked Joan Didion's writing. I remember listening to an interview of her and she said that she often had no idea what she was thinking, until she wrote it down. That's how I usually feel to.

    I'm glad your Aunt? died peacefully. We should all be so lucky.

  5. Sorry to hear about Nuala. What a long life she lived. Peacefully is a good way to go.

  6. How wonderful to have people in our lives who make a difference -- we're so lucky! I read your interesting article about "The Girls". They certainly were quite different. I've always loved to hear the stories most older people than me would tell about their lives and times. Glad Nuala could have that world experience with her sister and years later to die peacefully, as my husband did, too, which we all would hope we might when our time comes.

    I recall becoming quite attracted to Joan Didion's writings when I subscribed to the Los Angeles Times after we moved here and she contributed there sometimes. I also became more interested in California, its history, as I began to feel I was truly a native at heart though I had been born and lived several different places elsewhere.

  7. Two powerful women. I, too, was mentored by Didion in so many ways, through so many years. I think I'd like to do a retrospective of her writing and start all over again.

  8. I'm sorry about Nuala -- 102 is pretty impressive. "Slouching Toward Bethelehem" is one of my favorite books.