1 Story 5 Ways
We need to build a picture. I want to mention something else which is that if you've had a big loss, you don't just tell that story one time. That story becomes a part of you. And you tell it in many different forms at different stages. You know, my mother died 30 years ago when I was 35. I have probably published easily 10 essays. Some people could say, oh my god, there she goes with her dead mother again. But they're all very different. And they were written at different stages and looking at the death of my mother from different vantage points and different angles. As a 35 year old woman, who is experiencing the loss of her mother in terms of no longer having a grandmother for her children. I wrote about it when I was going through the divorce from my children's father, not having my mother to call up. I wrote about it when I was making Thanksgiving dinner and I didn't know how to make gravy and there was a phone number that I could no longer dial. There were different aspects of th...
e same experience. When I turned 50, I thought of my mother at 50. And I am very sure that when I turn 66, it's just over a year from now, the age that my mother was when she died, I'll be writing, looking at it once again in another way. Speaking for a moment about the death of my husband. My husband Jim died two years ago, and I have already published, in addition to a book about that experience, I've published a number of essays. And I'm going to read you the beginnings of a few of them. And you'll see how very differently I approached that experience. And they're all completely different essays exploring different aspects of grief. Because grief, as we all know, is not a straight line. Essay number one. This past spring, as I moved closer to the date that would have been my husband's 65th birthday, and four days later the anniversary of his death, the calendar was filled with landmines. I never knew which one I might step on. Next piece. Some months back, when so much seemed possible that no longer does, I asked my husband Jim to get us tickets to see Bob Dylan at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. They didn't come cheap, but he bought us two great seats. We were probably a year into cancer treatment by this point, and as much hopefulness as we still possessed, we had also learned that when there's something you really want to do, you shouldn't put it off. Essay number three. Back in the old days, my husband always picked me up at the airport, but that night after the plane landed it was a BART train that brought me to the stop closest to home and from there a cab that carried me on the last leg of my journey. And that piece actually it was published in AARP magazine, but it was first a Facebook post interestingly. Somebody at AARP saw it and called me up. That piece is about coming home to discover that my house had been robbed, or actually my house was robbed in the night when I came home. I woke up the next morning and discovered that a thief had come into my house in the night. But it wasn't a piece about the robbery. It was a piece about a different robbery that I experienced. And I never said that. I didn't have to. And here's a completely different take. Actually, this one I wrote just about a week ago. There is a man with whom I start my mornings, though he comes to me only on the screen of my laptop. When I think about how it is I've navigated the months since 2016, and the people who helped me get through the hardest time I ever knew, one name that comes to mind is that of Stephen Colbert. (laughing) Who happened, if anybody ever saw a picture of my husband, Jim, he looked a lot like Stephen Colbert, except more handsome. And so I say I get to have my coffee with Jim, cause they share a very similar view of politics, as well, and Jim was also very funny. So it's a piece that kind of backs into the loss of Jim and it's actually also about, it's about two losses that I experienced in 2016. One that was very personal to me, and everybody else who loved Jim, but still a smaller group. And one that was experienced by a few million people in our country. And I put those two together. That's a new way of looking at the death of my husband. So I want to say to you, that you know, we have many stories but we only have a few true obsessions. Honor them and don't be afraid to spend a lot of time looking at them. They deserve more than one look probably.