In 1983, about ten years after the psychic’s reading, my teenage son, who was in an advanced class, gave me a dark novel to read that had been assigned at school.  He had never done that.  As I read the short novel, I saw that the spiritual truth in the characters’ lives had something similar to that of our family.  We had been struggling with the increasing symptoms of my husband’s mental illness.

I knew of the novelist, that she was an early twentieth century writer.  I was familiar with the title of this book.  I even knew someone who had written her PhD dissertation on this author, but I don’t remember reading any of her books.  I looked her up, but it seemed that her other novels were not at all like this one. They were all about life and society.   This dark novel was about deprivation of every kind in a narrow, stark, cold world.

Somehow, this short novel gnawed at me.  It seemed to be giving me a message.  I knew it too well.  I was working on a novel set in old Macau, as a way of remembering my mother.  It was not going well, it had never gone well.  Mostly, I was “researching” and reading piles of unrelated books, in my usual way, several at a time, just as the psychic had described.

Now I had dreams about this dark novel.  I had dreams of being so cold it woke me up even though the weather was warm.   I suddenly remembered myself as a little girl running up the aisle to my mother lying in her coffin.  My mother looked beautiful surrounded by flowers.  I kissed her.   Her cheek was so cold on my lips I knew instantly that this was death, being cold and unresponsive as stone in winter.

Finally, I was so bothered by this book that I decided to turn to the friend who had sent me her psychic friend’s tape.  I gave her the writer’s name and asked if they could get any kind of message for me.

Eventually, the message came back.   The answer was an “urgent yes!”  Not sure how to interpret this, I started reading this writer’s biography.  The first thing that jumped out at me was the date of her death.   Correlating the difference in time zones, it was exactly the day on which I was born.

Still, all it really meant to me at that time was that I should work harder on my novel.  But I didn’t.  My life was getting more and more chaotic.

Ellen's Letter p2


Ellen's Letter p1

Desk figure

1 Comment

  1. It seems to me that Edith Wharton is being evoked here, which reminds me that last year I insisted that my family take me to Wharton’s house, The Mount, on Mother’s Day. When I was there, I had a strange overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for the house in Westport. (I miss that place! I was always have regretted that I was in France when you closed it up and sold it. I would have liked to have said goodbye.) The terraces in the back of The Mount especially reminded me of the house at Westport. That was always my favorite part of the house. I have pictures of me at The Mount, which I can send to you. From some angles it also looks like the house in Macau. Just thought I’d bring this up because the funny links are interesting. It was Mother’s Day, and you are like a mom to me, and the house made me think of you and the house you designed at Westport. Some more connections…..