Wednesday, March 6, 2013

NPR Keeps Breaking My Heart

I think this is probably a good thing overall (for me, for the world, or at least for the listeners of NPR-WGBH Boston, to be specific), but it is making my morning car-to-work transition very difficult. WGBH has taken to broadcasting very sad stories related to loss between 8-9am in the Boston area. These stories are beautiful, and important, but they are leaving me sobbing in the car, wiping my face with Dunkin' Donuts napkins from the glove box, and hoping that not too many co-workers see me as they make their way to work. It takes a while to get composed.

I'm used to this on Fridays when they feature Story Corps. If you haven't heard this program, I highly recommend it, but be sure to have tissues ready.

This oral history project features short clips of interviews between real people. A recent story includes a piece about a couple who fell in love with each other (both experiencing this for the first time ever) late in life and one of them is now facing a long-term illness. Last week I heard a Mom talking to her young daughter about what it was like for the daughter when the Mom went to jail. Inevitably, these very short  stories reduce me to a puddle in the car. I've come to expect it when I hear the music that precedes the show. It's probably a little Pavlovian at this point. I'm certain I'm not the only one, however. Go ahead, give it a try, let me know how you do.

So that's to be expected on a Friday, but this week GBH has gone further. In what must be an arts and culture feature, they have broadcast 2 pieces about loss in a row the past 2 mornings. Yesterday it was this story about Sonali Deraniyagala and her new book about how she lost her husband and sons in the 2004 tsunami:

It is impossible for me to imagine her loss, and her survival. It seems too, too much to bear.

Today they had a piece about a band called Cloud Cult:

A couple in the band lost their 2 year old son in his sleep, for no explained reason. The music is haunting and beautiful and after hearing this brief bit I needed to hear more immediately. Two songs I found are "You Were Born" and "Your 8th Birthday". The first is about the mystery of love and birth and in the second, the singer envisions his son's 8th birthday- a birthday he'll never see.

I'm almost 7 months out from the week we lost Chiara. Many days are good, life has returned to normal on the outside. Inside it's still a struggle, but still there is more normalcy than not. She is always there, and always will be. There are still tears, especially after stories like these. I hate getting all red in the face and having to get composed, but I am so glad these stories are being told, that people are making art and transforming their grief into something. It helps me to see what is possible- what love and then heartbreak people can experience and still keep living. For me, it is still early and I am not sure how my grief will be transformed. I do know that losing Chiara has changed me, in all sorts of ways, many that I cannot yet articulate.