Astrid and Veronika

‘A good father,’ Astrid said. ‘A loving father.’ She looked up. The wine had painted her cheeks pink and Veronika suddenly thought she could again see beauty in the old face. ‘Parents have such formidable power. They can protect you from all the pain in the world. Or inflict the hardest pain of all. And as children we accept what we get. Perhaps we believe that anything is better than that which we all fear the most.’ She looked out the window, where the hot summer air stood still. ‘Loneliness. Abandonment,’ she said. ‘But once you accept the fact that you have always been alone, and will always be, then your perspective can begin to change. You can become aware of the small kindnesses, the little comforts. Be grateful for them. And with time you will understand that there is nothing to fear. And much to be grateful for.’  She lifted her glass and drank the last mouthful. ‘For me, the realization took a lifetime. Don’t let it take you that long, Veronika.’

(Karin Boye is a Swedish poet whose work Linda Olsson includes in this book, and whom I had not known of before reading Astrid and Veronika. Perhaps you know of her already?)