So there’s this dramatic concept known as “the crucible,” which is, your characters are confined somehow, can’t escape their situation. A life raft. A house or room where going outside is unthinkable. A dead-end job where the alternative is starvation.

Grief is like that, I think. It’s there all the time and you can’t escape it because you wouldn’t want to, because not feeling would be so much worse.

It colors everything. Happy memories become bittersweet memories. Sad memories become harrowing memories. It colors fantasies, too. A few days ago, I thought at length about what I would do if I were back in my 22-year-old body, getting together with Karen for the first time. Would I do it all again? Of course. I love her. But then I was faced with the agonizing question: what do I tell her? How much do I tell her about the pain in store for her? About how much she will lose . . . ultimately everything? But would I have the strength not to tell her? The fantasy sucked. As much as I might like to live through those years, both for the joys of those years and for the chance to do it better, to be a better husband, I couldn’t do it. The joy would be poisoned by the knowledge of what was still to come.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. After all, we always knew that a bad end was likely. We knew this most acutely in those first six years, but after a while, I think we both started to hope. Hope kept us going. Could I do it all again, knowing the hope was pointless?

One of my pen pals wrote me that I sound like I’m doing better. I reread my letter to her. It did indeed sound upbeat. Maybe I am doing better. Maybe I dissemble well.

Nearly thirteen months.