14 April 2012

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison.
Photograph © Caroll Taveras for The Guardian.

There is an interview with novelist Toni Morrison at The Guardian today. In part the interview is about her writing and her new novel. In part too she talks about politics. And I appreciate her views very much. But this week, especially, am struck by her closing comments about her son who recently died and her response to people offering condolences following his death. Here is what she says and, I will add, I could hardly agree more:

"What do you say? There really are no words for that. There really aren't. Somebody tries to say, 'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.' People say that to me. There's no language for it. Sorry doesn't do it. I think you should just hug people and mop their floor or something."

And then her assessment of books and other writings about grief, about which, I have been almost uniformly uncomplimentary here in the past too. She dismisses:

"Books that have been written about the death of a child, but are all about the author. And people who were trying to soothe me, were trying to soothe me. I never heard anything about him. They say it's about the living, it's not, it's about the dead."

Too many people, spend too much energy making someone else's death about themselves. I've seen that happen close up and it is not pretty. Is it so hard, after all, to make death about the dead? Not really. This past week, for instance, many of Jeff's friends and classmates wrote wonderful, touching things about him on his FB page. For that I am grateful.

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