Revisiting Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger

Margaret From Maine by Joseph Monninger
Plume, 354 pages
More often than not, a book that’s been read and reviewed gets shelved only to be forgotten. It becomes just another stat on our goal to polish off our TBR. Unless a book was written by a most revered author or a book was that unforgettable, then I find myself re-reading passages and sometimes, the entire book itself.

There are books that would make you pause while in the midst of reading another book just because something – a word, a phrase – triggers your memory and you pick it back up again and search for that passage.

In this novel, a scene toward the end of the book where Margaret had pretty much reached her point, her limit, if I may, that I thought was truly heart-rending. A little background on this book: a story of a veteran’s wife who’s had to live with a husband in a vegetative state from injuries that he suffered in Afghanistan while on tour. Margaret’s life pretty much stalled – frozen as her husband was in the hospital bed. Then she meets Charlie. In as little as a few days, they have an affair. It’s not what you’re thinking. It’s not as lewd as what you would think. Joseph’s writing was provocative as it was endearing. It was lovely and old-fashioned.

Anyway, in this scene, Margaret had felt all the loneliness and sadness that any woman could possibly endure so she sort of lost it at the hospital. While the orderlies were trying to subdue her, the administrator came and tried to talk her down off the ledge, so to speak.

“Hi Margaret,” she said quietly when the rest of the staff had backed away.

Margaret nodded.

“I don’t want to pretend to know what you’re feeling,” Mrs. McCafferty said, her voice slightly flattened with a Maine accent. “No one can know that. I’ve watched you come here faithfully all these years, and you’ve never raised your voice, never caused us any problem, and so I know something has hurt you. Or maybe you’ve finally reached a point…we all have points, don’t we? We have a place that fills us too much and then we give in, we can’t help it, we’re saturated. You and I both know I have nothing good to say here. You know it. I won’t try. But I promise you I will defend you to the last moment I work here because I have seen what you have been through. And if you’ve just had a little collapse, so what? How do you not deserve that? I’m going to stay here for a few minutes and let you decide when you’re ready to rejoin the world. I’ll help you, so don’t worry. And we can go have a nice cup of tea, or a glass of whiskey. I don’t care, because I see your husband there and I know a little of it.” – page 299

Don’t we all have limits? Don’t you just wish you can scream at the top of your lungs when life gets too much?