Last week, I chanced to hear Edward Hirsch on Morning Edition, sharing about the loss of his son.
Three years ago, his son died unexpectedly at age 22. Grief kept Hirsch from his work. For months, the poet could only write private words, trying to chase down every detail he could about his son's life. To catch that moment's sunlight before it faded…. so that Gabriel would not be lost for all time.
All this past month, I have felt like tearing myself apart, felt the need to "capture" my friend K's essence. No she was not a child whose life I was responsible for creating. I only got to meet her once.
Alive and present, and living life fully despite chronic fatigue syndrome, her voice was always strong and just a phone call away.
I miss the alto sound of her spirit, the wry humor always always audible. She is just out of reach of memory and description. The trace of our correspondence is all I have of her. I am glad that Edward Hirsch found his way to share his son, and put grief into words for others like myself who have so much less to work with.
The NPR interview is poignant, because he shares deeply an experience we typically feel "should" be private, so I must share it:
Before you heal, you have to mourn
Yes, I have experienced others quickly wanting me to move on from grief. I learn and learn again, how I cannot leave grief behind until I've felt my Beloved's whole meaning to me and put it in words.
Mr. Hirsch, yours is an act of courage to stay the course long enough to publish something so personal. How dare you share this intimacy--a printed elegy--one long poem of your experience?
Indeed, I must thank you Mr. Hirsch, for sharing Gabriel and the universe of grief, with us.