In 1838, 35-year old Ralph Waldo Emerson sat down and wrote in his journal:
I am cheered with the moist, warm, glittering, budding and melodious hour that takes down the narrow walls of my soul and extends its pulsation and life to the very horizon. That is morning; to cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body, and to become as large as the World.
Nearly 200 years later, Emerson’s great-great-great granddaughter, Nina Riggs found profound meaning in that entry and named the book she finished a month before her death at age 39, in February, 2017, “The Bright Hour.” When the reader fully absorbs that journal entry, it’s as if the generations between Emerson and Riggs disappear and that these two people born 174 years apart shared a connection, a knowledge of how hard it is to live when the body is failing, and the beauty of experiencing something so simple – daybreak – to alleviate the suffering. Although Emerson recovered and went on to live another 44 years, dying at the age of 78, Riggs was not so lucky. Read more
Several years ago, after my 14-year old golden retriever died, a friend gave me a book called “The Magical Year of Thinking” written by Joan Didion. The book is about the sudden death of Didion’s husband and the grief she experienced: reliving the last few days, imagining different outcomes, and sometimes pretending the loss isn’t real, that it was all a bad dream. As time goes by, the reader realizes that time doesn’t heal all wounds; time just makes the wound more bearable. And, although the loss of a beloved pet cannot be compared to the loss of a partner, “The Magical Year of Thinking” doesn’t distinguish between types of grief. Grief is grief no matter how you experience it. Read more