When she woke up crying from one of her nightmares, the Kolker would stay with her, brush her hair with his hands, collect her tears in thimbles for her to drink the next morning (The only way to overcome sadness is to consume it, he said), and more than that: once her eyes closed and she fell back asleep, he was left to bear the insomnia. There was a complete transfer, like a speeding billiard ball colliding with a resting one. Should Brod feel depressed — she was always depressed — the Kolker would sit with her until he could convince her that it’s OK. It is. Really. And when she would move on with her day, he would stay behind, paralyzed with a grief he couldn’t name and that wasn’t his. Should Brod become sick, it was the Kolker who would be bedridden by week’s end. Should Brod feel bored, knowing too many languages, too many facts, with too much knowledge to be happy, the Kolker would stay up all night studying her books, studying the pictures, so the next day he could try to make the kind of small talk that would please his young wife.
Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer, p.122