The Long Goodbye is poet Meghan O'Rourke's account of her mother's colorectal cancer and the year of mourning that followed her death. I read the book the first time through as a companion—O'Rourke's experience is eerily like my own.
Where I live at 10,200 feet, the
trees have not yet budded. May is still early, early spring in Leadville,
Colorado, but all around me is a sudden burst of gardening. For months, people
have been filling their homes with starter plants; now they're calling around
to see who has space for more in the few small greenhouses.
Eating at my city grandmother's table was a chore. I remember being dressed up, speaking in soft tones
if at all, and being terrified of spilling on that lace
tablecloth. But my country grandma served her meals in the kitchen.
There's a young man in my congregation--let's call him
"Michael"--who's trying to turn his life around. He's been in and out of
detention centers and prisons since he was 13. Over and over again, he was
caught stealing cars, smoking pot, breaking and entering; you name it, he's
done it. But now he's trying to change, to turn around.
Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, remembers Vincent Harding coming up to him at a church in Denver and suggesting that they work together. Patel declined, saying he thought the mission of his own organization didn’t mesh with Harding’s. After Harding died, Patel read his obituary and learned Harding was an unsung hero of the civil rights movement and a speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr. Later, at an event attended by Patel and Harding’s widow Aljosie, Patel confessed that he had passed up a great opportunity. Aljosie said to Patel: “You should know that Vincent followed your work, and he loved you, and he forgives you” (OnBeing.org, June 9).