From The Guardian:
Joan Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, lived and worked together for 40 years. When he died suddenly in their New York apartment, as their daughter lay gravely ill in a nearby hospital, nothing prepared her for the tumult of grief and its assault on her sanity.
“Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.”
For a long time I wrote nothing else.
“Life changes in the instant.
The ordinary instant.”
At some point, in the interest of remembering what seemed most striking about what had happened, I considered adding those words, “the ordinary instant”. I recognise now that there was nothing unusual in this: confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the hard shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy.