Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.
So begins Albert Camus' novel, The Stranger (L’Étranger). Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know.
I read The Stranger in Mrs. Miller's French class in high school. We read the novel at the end of the school year. I can still see Mrs. Miller seated on her desk, reading to the students from the novel in a lilting French, with the windows open: the warm May breeze creating an uncanny presence.
I was 15 years old. For some reason the opening line of the book -- both the French and English translation -- has always stayed with me.
Oddly enough, my mother died in her sleep some time after going to bed on a Tuesday evening. She might have died that evening or the following Wednesday morning. I don't know. Some things remain a mystery. Psychoanalysts say that the quality of mystery is a feminine trait -- or at least a trait attached to women by men. I can see what is in plain sight, but what is it that is inside? Some men turn that question into a lifelong career.