A year turned into several years, and several years turned into all the years. One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it's happened.
A few years turned into more years, and more years turned into all years. Years have a habit of behaving like that. It’s not that Britt-Marie chose not to have any expectations, she just woke up one morning and realized they were past their sell-by date.
A human being, any human being at all, has so perishingly few chances to stay right there, to let go of time and fall into the moment. And to love someone without measure, explode with passion... A few times when we are children, maybe, for those of us who are allowed to be... But after that? How many breaths are we allowed to take beyond the confines of ourselves? How many pure emotions make us cheer out loud without a sense of shame? How many chances do we get to be blessed by amnesia? All passion is childish, it's banal and naive, it's nothing we learn, it's instinctive, and so it overwhelms us... Overturns us... It bears us away in a flood... All other emotions belong to the earth, but passion inhabits the universe. That is the reason why passion is worth something. Not for what it gives us, but for what it demands that we risk ― our dignity, the puzzlement of others in their condescending shaking heads...
An unreasonable amount of paperwork is required these days just to be a human being.
If you can be heard then you exist.
It’s easier to stay optimistic if you never have to clear up the mess afterwards.
Because life is more than the shoes your feet are in. More than the person you are. It's the togetherness. The parts of yourself in another. Memories and walls and cupboards and drawers with compartments for cutlery, so you know where everything is.
It takes years to know a human being. An entire lifetime. It's what makes a home a home.
The balcony boxes may look as if they only contain soil, but underneath there are flowers waiting for spring. The winter requires whoever is doing the watering to have a bit of faith, in order to believe that what looks empty has every potential. Britt-Marie no longer knows whether she has faith or just hope. Maybe neither.
It’s the silence that Britt-Marie struggles most of all to live with, because while immersed in silence you don’t know if anyone knows you are there, and winter is also the quiet season because the cold insulates people. Makes the world soundless.
Finally, out of breath, she fetches a towel from her handbag. Turns off the ceiling light in the kitchen. Sits down on one of the wooden stools in the darkness, and weeps into the towel. She doesn’t want her tears to drip onto the floor. They could leave marks.
Tickling light falls over warm duvets, like the smell of freshly brewed coffee and toasted bread. It shouldn't be doing this. It's the wrong day to be beautiful, but the dawn doesn't care.
If a human being closes her eyes hard and long enough, she can remember all the times she has made a choice in her life just for her own sake. And realize, perhaps, that it has never happened.
She misses her balcony more than anything. You’re never quite alone when you can stand on a balcony—you have all the cars and houses and the people in the streets. You’re among them, but also not. That’s the best thing about balconies.
My mother worked for the social services all her life. She always said that in the middle of all the crap, in the thick of it all, you always had a sunny story turning up. Which makes it all worthwhile.
When she realizes that they are about to fall, she summons the strength to stand on her own two feet. Because that is what women like Britt-Marie do. They find the strength when they have to do something for others.
The human brain has a monstrous ability to re-create memories of such clarity that the rest of the body loses all sense of time.
Fredrik Backman, Britt-Marie Was Here - source
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