When I read “The Year of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg–a novel about a widow’s first year without her husband–I marked this passage as especially moving:
Outside, it had begun to snow: tiny flakes that made it look like the earth was being salted. Tomorrow I would need to buy a new shovel–the one John had used was too heavy for me. He’d appreciated hard manual labor, saying he liked to do work that was outside his head, for a change. I liked reading a good novel while he cleared the walks, popping up every now and then to look out the window and see how he was progressing. That was my contribution. Of course, I had reciprocated–bringing him dinner on a tray when the Sox were playing an important game. Sewing on buttons for him. Finding things he insisted weren’t there when they were actually right before him. I wasn’t sure Lorraine and other like her–ones who were so despairing of marriage, ones who were so sure their expectations could never be met–understood that it was these small moments of caretaking that meant the most, that forged the real relationship. The way one pulled the blankets over the sleeping other, the way one prepared a snack for oneself but made enough to share. Such moments made for the team of two, which made for one’s sword and shield.
So often it is the little things in life…and in writing…that really count.