on gratitude, the memoir, ‘the moth’

sample 2B
It’s an odd thing, this gratitude I feel for so many gifts that have come my way since Chris’s suicide. How can I be grateful for a book I wouldn’t have written had he not jumped? How can I be grateful for a story I couldn’t have told? How can I give thanks for the new people who’ve entered my life in the aftermath, the new surges of love I’ve felt, the new places I’ve been with my kids, the new adventures I’ve had since his death?

But I am indeed thankful. And yet this bizarre and blessed I-am-thankfulness doesn’t diminish the horror of what came before or the pain that still throbs because of it. This is the yin-yang of our messy, mashed-up, miraculous human lives — the push of living that sends us forward, the pull of death that makes us grieve.

What a job we have ahead of us when we’re born! “Hey kid,” says Whoever’s in charge at the gate. “Squeeze through this tube, pop out and scream, then shit all over your parents. Then scream some more. After that, laugh. Be sure to howl in agony at life’s exquisite torments. But don’t stop laughing. And keep shitting. Do this until you die. Now, off you go! Have fun! Don’t forget to write!”

If anyone explained all this to me at the outset, I honestly don’t remember. Took me a while to figure that out. It’ll take me a while longer to figure out the rest. Maybe we can help each other do that; I certainly can’t do it alone.

In the meantime, because I know I have to plug myself no matter how badly I suck at self-promotion, here’s the link to my story for “The Moth.”

And here’s the obligatory Amazon link to my memoir of life after my husband’s death, “Figuring Shit Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival.” 

Even better, here’s a link to the book on indiebound.org, where you can find a local independent bookstore. And if you click here, you can order it via indiebound from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Or, if you feel like a drive in the snow, I’ll be appearing at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19: click here for that.)

That’s about it from me for now. If my memoir or my story helps a few people struggling with grief to feel a little less alone, then it’s served its purpose. I’m grateful for that, too.

20 thoughts on “on gratitude, the memoir, ‘the moth’

  1. Amy, I’m a widow of 18 months and have been struggling with the wedding ring thing, myself. Your Moth piece was extraordinary. Though my husband’s cancer death was a different scenario, you described so clearly much of my own experience. Thank you for telling your story; I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  2. What an amazing bit of timing.

    I heard your story on The Moth today, but only because I worked a bit past my scheduled time, then did a bit of shopping before getting in the car. In the telling, your doorbell had just rung when I started the car. Because I live five minutes from work, I sat listening, entranced, until the end.

    You see, I was having “a bit of a Ben day” before leaving work, because today marked 4 months since my 19 year old son took his own life. An old high school friend had just asked me for advice yesterday, because a friend of hers was trying to deal with her husband’s recent suicide (I sent her the show link as soon as I got home).

    I also proposed to my wife four months after our first date, and I also didn’t have a ring handy (having caught us both by surprise). Instead of a ruby, we stopped at the gift shop atop the mountain where I popped the question, and found a jar of ridiculously huge lucite novelty rings, priced at two for forty-nine cents. We found one with a smiley face — her favorite emblem — and she wore that and showed it off like it was the Hope Diamond until we married just three months later.

    Over the years she’s worn a couple of different wedding ring upgrades, and when Ben died, she was wearing an interesting little silver filigree ring he had bought for her at a flea market, because it meant so much to her that he bought such a thoughtful gift.

    Now, that ring has a permanent place on her right ring finger, and the simple gold band I gave her on our wedding day is back on her left ring finger. We both feel the weight of the rings.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, too. It’s harder than it should be to talk about this out in the world, which still feels such reluctance to speak and listen honestly about grief, suicide, mental illness. Thanks for connecting here — in a little corner of cyberspace — with me and others who unfortunately have this in common.

  3. I caught your Moth commentary — had to keep the car going. It is 52 Fridays since I learned my husband had brain tumors; he died about 30 days later. I took the wedding ring off early; not because I wanted to date (you expressed that well) but because he was gone. Your spoken words captured so much of what I knew and yet hadn’t had a voice to express so well. Thank you.

    • And thank you so much for coming here to tell me. I’ve known people who took the ring off immediately; I’ve known others who never removed them, even after decades. Of course it’s an intensely personal decision, but the lack of frank, public discussion of these things makes it even harder. Take care.

  4. I have your book and it was helpful as I navigate my own grief due to my husband dying by suicide 6 months ago. I started my own list of things I’ve figured out since he died. I really liked hearing your story about the wedding ring – you put it together so well. I also connected with how you felt touch deprived. I can relate to that so much but no one talks about it. Thank goodness I have friends who will hug! virtual hugs to you.

  5. I just heard your Moth piece and I look forward to reading your book. My husband died 6 months ago in almost the same way, except that he jumped from a cliff onto some rocks. We have two kids. We were together 19 years and his suicide occured on our 16th wedding anniversary. Like you, I’ve been getting up each and everyday, and trying to move through this grief. I have lots of hope for my future, but of course I miss my husband terribly. I’m discovering inner reserves of strength that I didn’t know I had. I feel myself changing from the inside out.

    • Oh, Angelique, thank you for listening, reading and reaching out. I’m so sorry for your loss. (Every time I use those words, I’m struck for the insufficiency of them in expressing both the extent of the sorrow and the pain of the loss itself. But it’s what we have.) “Changing from the inside out” is exactly right – what a perfect way of putting it. I’ve changed in so many ways I wonder what the old me would think of of the new. She’d probably be shocked, but the new me doesn’t much care! Take care of yourself, and again – thanks for coming here and posting.

  6. Just finished your book and am now devouring your blog. Thank you for writing this book, thank you for sharing your grief – yes, it helped enormously with not feeling so alone with mine.

  7. Just finished your book and am now devouring your blog. Thank you for writing this book, thank you for sharing your grief – yes, it helped enormously with not feeling so alone with mine.

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