Sunday, February 13, 2022

Lives, Acknowledged

We're moving.  We're packing up our little life here in Los Angeles and moving to create a little, maybe a little bigger, life in New Hampshire.  When you pack up, you also unpack a lot of little things:  do i keep this? does this thing go in a box with that thing?  It's a lot to sort through.  So, we decided we wouldn't spend much time sorting thru any of it until we unpack on the other end.  Some things though, are hard to miss.  When you open a drawer that's been closed for a few years, you find these things and maybe you start to rifle through them just a little bit.  And maybe you get completely caught up in these things and find hours have passed as you read, sort, read some more, maybe even have a good cry over what you've 'found' again.

There are four large drawers deep in the walk in closet of our current apartment.  When we realized we couldn't have everything out on shelves or on desks or bookcases, things went into these drawers.  Now that we're moving, the drawers have to be emptied and, inevitably, I start looking through these envelopes and little boxes and catch myself going in deep.  On top of one of these envelopes, a large black envelope to be exact, is an article that is titled "A life, acknowledged" written by Richard Cohen, formerly of The Washington Post.  This article includes the story of my friend, Suzanne Hart, who was killed ten years ago in NYC.  It is a sparing, brutally honest, short piece about the people that were in the obituaries that week of December, 2011.  I can't link it here, I can't even find it online actually.  But, moments ago, when I was just trying to send him an email, I wasn't even trying to find the article online.  I had it in my hand.  I read it.  And then I read it again.  And I cried.  When I stopped crying, I decided to write him a note to tell him that I'd saved this piece and, while it wasn't particularly warm or emotional, it actually made me feel both of those things.  

Here is the email I wrote:

Dear Mr. Cohen,
I probably wrote to you back in 2011 when you first wrote this piece (12/20/11) but I don't remember if I did and, as we are packing up our whole house and moving back east again, I came across the envelope where I keep all the articles about my friend, Suzanne Hart, read it again and had a good ole sob.
I just wanted to thank you, if I hadn't previously.  It's strange to read about your best friend, a limb practically, in such detached views.  Yet, your piece made me feel that she had been seen, beyond the sensationalism.  And there was plenty of that.
Her brother, sister-in-law and I just acknowledged ten years of her being gone from our lives.  I sent them a Maya Angelou poem that I have on repeat in my head.  Though, for the three of us, at least, she's never really "gone".  We all talk to her a lot .  I met Suzanne in the sixth grade, stuck by each other like glue for the next ten years, lost touch for a bit, and then we both ended up in NYC and picked up right where we left off.  Sure, she was a 'a ray of sunshine', as the papers wrote, but truly she had a brilliantly dark sense of humor and a wicked tongue that kept us both in stitches.  They don't write that type of thing in an obit.
Another thing I came across as I was packing today was the cassette tapes I used to record answering machine messages and every friend that came thru my apartment.  On many of them, there is Suzanne, talking, laughing, smoking, living:  On one of them, she says to me, 'what are you going to do with all these recordings, molly, play them after i'm dead so you can still hear my voice?!' and she laughs and laughs. 
Yeah, Suz, I am.

But I never sent it.  In searching for Mr. Cohen's email address or where he is now (I honestly wanted to make sure he was still around before I sent this into the ether) I found more articles than I can count about what an absolute jack ass he was.  Article after article about his white-male privilege, openly racist thoughts and the sexual harassment that he displayed over and over gain.  UGH.  Each article worse than the last.  Mother Jones does a top 10 countdown of his worst moments.  I won't link it here, you can easily find it.  He's a real piece of work, retired now, but no doubt living out these traits in his real life, not just in the newspaper.  

The email, I deleted, the article I'll keep because ultimately, it's about Suzanne, not about this guy.  And when I talk to Suzanne, we can really rip this guy to shreds and no one has to read about any of it.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Shew, coming up on 4 years since my best friend died I found so much of this relatable.
So glad you googled that journo before sending him the email though.
And what a big move! I'd obviously picked up on IG that you were moving but I had no idea it was such a cross-country one. Good luck!