Magnifying light

In a couple of different passages in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” Francie reflects on experiencing something for the last time, a feeling that we all know too well.

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The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day.

What had Granma Mary Rommely said? “To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

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She went out and took a last long look at the shabby little library. She knew she would never see it again. Eyes changed after they looked at new things. If in the years to be she were to come back, her new eyes might make everything seem different from the way she saw it now. The way it was now was the way she wanted to remember it.

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