I’m really sorry your mother died. She wasn’t, as you know, the easiest mother-in-law, especially for someone insecure and sensitive (poorly wired, you might say). But I always admired Helen’s style, and that elegant, almost European way she would lift her chin when she was about to say something cutting, purse her lips, and look down her long, flared nose. This, by the way, is a condolence note. It’s the gesture that civilized humans perform when someone they used to care about—for instance, a former spouse—loses someone they still care about, even if that person was not particularly lovable or kind. I mention this because it’s all the more called for to write such a note when the person who died was, say, a truly beloved parent who happened to be extremely thoughtful to his daughter’s then-husband, taking him on trips to Lisbon and Budapest, introducing him to special things he had never before encountered, like the Fauves, like that cheese made by dour Spanish monks. Or Kusshi oysters, which I happen to know that you still love, via Facebook, via your “happy anniversary, my love” post to Marilyn. Yet this man who was your father-in-law for a good 14 years, and with whom you got along extremely well, better, truth be told, than I did, since my father for all his virtues could be a little dismissive of women, died last year, and I did not hear from you A Fucking Peep. So I am modeling, for your reference, how compassionate humans condole.
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