Like the pain of a bad wound, the effect of a deep shock takes a while to be felt. When a child is told, for the first time in his life, that a person he has known is dead, although he does not disbelieve it, he may well fail to comprehend it and later ask–perhaps more than once–where the dead person is and when he is coming back.
I hate being sick. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. There was real comfort in being sick, in the quiet of my bedroom, in the care of my mother, the sheets and blankets tight over my legs, the TV table over the bed, the tiny black and white television within reach. I was obsessive with the game shows in the morning – Gambit, High Rollers, Match Game, The Joker’s Wild! I stared blankly at the talk shows in the afternoon – Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore. I ate rusks and honey, drank ginger ale, and read Watership Down cover to cover. And then I got the blankets pulled back tight.