Uit: The Play Goes On, A Memoir
“The thought uppermost in my mind was to distract the girls from dealing with the past, and to get them busy with getting on with life, making some small attempt at normalcy. I am always amazed at the resiliency of the young. They looked at me, waiting to hear what my plans were, ready and eager to comply. Neither girl had intended to be home that summer, both having made plans, not fully realizing the graveness of Joan’s condition. Nancy was summoned back from camp when Joan passed away sooner than I ever imagined, and Ellen had canceled a student trip to Europe to be with her mother for her last few months. I suggested getting away from New York, as far away as possible, distancing ourselves from loss and sorrow. The summer house in Pound Ridge, New York, that I had bought expressly as a gift to Joan, where I hoped she would recover from her illness, was just a marginal choice to revisit. I offered to take them both to Europe, reasoning that traveling and being together would be, if not a fun-filled vacation, at least a chance to heal ourselves in new surroundings, in a place with fewer memories. Nancy surprised me when she opted to return to camp. It also gave me a sense of relief to know that this ten-year-old knew what was best for her. Ellen and I left together for Europe a week later.
I made the mistake of returning to all the same hotels that Joan and I had stayed in, something that proved harder for me to deal with than for Ellen. But slowly, day by day, I began to see a change in Ellen, a maturing, perhaps growing up faster than she normally would have if Joan were still alive. She started to point out things in shops in London and in Paris that might go nicely in our house.”
Neil Simon (New York, 4 juli 1927)