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John Palcewski's Journal

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Her Own Annihilation
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  Dog & Bone I


Melancholy persists, and I’m finding it hard to think or to write.

The latest from Francesca is that obviously all the stress of the past two, three weeks has had a rather bad effect on Vittoria’s health. She isn’t eating anything except candy and other junk, and she’s numb and listless. The other day Francesca put her hand on her sister’s forehead as she was dozing. It was quite hot. Vittoria nevertheless refused to go to the emergency room.

Giovanni decided it was time to take action, so he persuaded the doctor to make a house call. Which made Vittoria furious. The doctor gave her a shot, and some antibiotic pills. He told her, “If you don’t start eating, you’ll have to be hospitalized.”

It occurred to me that if she were in serious trouble, the doctor would have called an ambulance right then. Some small comfort.

In our last conversation Francesca said that Vittoria’s fever has gone, but she stays in bed all day watching old movies on TV. The phone is ringing off the hook, and Nonna says she is going to tear that phone off the wall. Who is calling? Why, all Vittoria's “friends” who are concerned about her health. Men friends.

“Be sure to tell her that I’m delighted she’s so popular,” I said. I didn’t care if I came across as a jealous neurotic. The whole thing was making me sick.

“Are you kidding?” Francesca said. “She stays in bed all day and isn’t talking to anyone.”

Jack wrote me a thoughtful post the other day. He said that we can’t expect to fully understand the impact the adoption thing is having on Vittoria, because growing up neither of us ever got the feeling we were different, or as he put it, “other.” Identity, he said, is often fragile. And mysterious. Vittoria now believes—rightly or wrongly—that her entire life to this point has been a lie. Which in her mind means that notions of loyalty and affection and love are meaningless.

“She thus has been stripped of the illusion that she belongs somewhere,” Jack wrote, “But even more frightening is that she apparently has lost the protective barrier that stands between us and the black abyss. It’s the existential dread that what’s-his-name always talked about. She’s confronting nothing less than her own annihilation.”

The more I chew on that one, the more depressed I get.


  Dog & Bone II