THE WHOLENESS OF A BROKEN HEART
By Katie Singer
Published by Riverhead Books / Penguin Putnam


Excerpt From the Book

IDA
Hannah's grandmother
born in 1902 in New York City

"I just feel like calling," Gram says, that evening. "You know, perk myself up a little."

"Gosh," I say, "that's nice to hear."

"Ya," she says. Then: "Uh, Hannah? Now I don't believe 'psychic.' But this morning, I turned to the obituary section in the paper, and I looked for Rothman."

"Yes . . .?" I ask, a smile already emerging on my lips.

"Well, Irene Rothman died yesterday. She was a friend when we lived on Shannon Road."

"And you found her obituary in the paper?"

"I did. Isn't that strange? You know my mother talked with her baby, Vitl, for a long time; but usually I don't believe that business--life after death."

"Mm," I say. "You remember when my neighbor Mrs. Slater died--that older woman in my building? I got groceries for her when the weather was so bad last winter. I hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks when she died, and then I dreamed about her a few times. It felt like we were saying goodbye."

"Uh huh," Gram says, sort of meekly. "It just seems so strange to me, that I knew."

"Well," I say. "Like you've said before, you have a good intuition."

"Yes, I do." Her voice has become confident again. "Well, do you remember Irene?"

"Not really."

"She was a talker. She liked to argue things to a point. One time Moe and I were there for dinner, and you know how Grampa could be, he just up and called her a foolish woman--for no reason that I could see. I didn't think she was foolish. I always liked what she had to say. But anyway, she wouldn't have anything to do with Moe after that. She and I stayed friendly. She knew what I had to live with. But if she had a dinner party or something with husbands, I wasn't invited on account of Grampa. You know, Irene's the first of us to go. It kind of brings things close to home."

"You mean about your own dying?"

"Yes."

We hold the phone quietly, just to take in this thought. "Gram," I say. "When you die, I'm going to keep talking to you."

"Well," she says. "I'll try to answer."


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Photo of Katie Singer by Herbert Lotz.