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The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible

This is from Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. What does this passage mean?

This is the background:

"It’s just us now, isn’t it?” I said. But even as the words were coming out, I knew it wasn’t really true. Finn was always there. Finn would always be there. And then I thought something terrible. I thought that if Finn were still alive, Toby and I wouldn’t be friends at all. If Finn hadn’t caught AIDS, I would never even have met Toby. That strange and awful thought swirled around in my buzzy head. Then something else occurred to me. What if it was AIDS that made Finn settle down? What if even before he knew he had it, AIDS was making him slower, pulling him back to his family, making him choose to be my godfather. It was possible that without AIDS I would never have gotten to know Finn or Toby. There would be a big hole filled with nothing in place of all those hours and days I’d spent with them. If I could time-travel, could I be selfless enough to stop Finn from getting AIDS? Even if it meant I would never have him as my friend? I didn’t know. I had no idea how greedy my heart really was.

I stood there staring at the sky over Canal Street as it faded from orange to a dusty pink. An old lady dragged a shopping cart filled with bags down the street, click click clicking over the sidewalk. The sun kept on with its slipping away, and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting on the shoulders of something terrible.

  • Thank you for the added context. That did help. – Sean Duggan Jun 26 at 17:48
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The first clause is describing the setting of the sun and the second is the narrator pondering how many good things proceeded from terrible things. They provide the example that Finn getting AIDS was what led to positive things in the narrator's life, from Finn himself to Toby. I personally also see it as an implicit recognition that, while we might speculate on how we might change the past, we can't, and maybe we shouldn't, since good things can come from tragedies.

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