All posts tagged: Grief

tuenight prince penny wrenn

I Rarely Play Any Prince Songs. So Why Am I Crying?

The day of Prince’s death, I, like you and everyone you know, was distraught. For hours, my despair was haughty and demonstrative. But late last Thursday night, there was a pause in my grief. It came around 11 p.m., which is just about the time that my aunt said this: “But I never hear you play any Prince songs….” Her voice trailed off, stopping short of a direct accusation. But the implication had been cast, and it was damning enough to stop my mourning in its tracks. Was I not enough of a hardcore Prince fan to be in such hardcore distress? In the wake of a famous musician’s death, the only thing worse than being outed as a non-fan is being outed as a semi-fan acting like a fanatic. I know diehard Prince fans. Fans who go to the annual Prince vs. Michael Jackson Soul Slam dance parties. Fans whose homes are decorated with lithographs en homage to the purple one. Fans who can tell you every member of every one of Prince’s offshoot …

The Final Reunions I Never Had

(Photos: Courtesy of Lauren Young; Photo Collage: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) There are reunions you look forward to in life. For these gatherings, you plan to lose a few pounds ahead of time, book hotel rooms and rekindle memories by looking though old photo albums and yearbooks. And then there are the impromptu reunions. They are the unplanned, emotional and raw. I keep an altar of sorts on my nightstand. It’s a place to reunite the spirits I love. The ones who were taken from us too soon. *** I met my friend Chris Vicente in a Nazism and Fascism class in college during our junior year at Penn State. He had just returned from a semester in Rome, and I was immediately drawn to his Euro style: the horn-rimmed glasses, the bouffy, big 80s hair and a fabulous fashion sense. We didn’t know each other, but figured we should. And that’s how the friendship started. Turns out we shared a birthday (July 8), a passion for life, dancing and a love of men, although I …

TueNight letter Jennifer Bensko Ha

A Friendship Kept Alive Through Letters

The first time I saw Jim, I immediately noticed his height. He was so tall that his head cleared the dark, dusty cabinets in the Schermerhorn building. Bright blue eyes, and long limbs, he had been an elite fencer and he moved quickly and energetically. We were both in a beginning Finnish class at Columbia in the mid ’80s. It was a morning class, and the five of us in it would wait outside with our to-go coffees and make small talk. After class, Jim and I walked to our dorms together, becoming friends slowly, but I really got to know him when he began writing me notes. He’d leave them under my door, or send them through campus mail. “Do you want to study later? Go for a walk? Get coffee?” Back then, there really was no other way to reach someone other than by phone or by note. No Internet, no cell phones, no email, no social media. Telephones were wall mounted in hallways, so privacy was limited. Sometimes I’d miss him, sometimes not, but we’d see …

Late Night Snack: “Loss” — Our Very First Podcast

Well it’s appropriately and officially “Late Night” (almost midnight, here on the East Coast) and we’re posting our very first podcast. Back in October when we had professional actors read some of our stories aloud at our TueNight birthday party, we realized how fun it was to hear our words aloud. And, since we Google Hangout (amongst ourselves) each week to plan upcoming issues, we thought we’d also share a bit of that behind the scenes with you, dear reader. So HERE. WE. GO! This week: We discuss this week’s theme and our own forms of “Loss” — from loved ones to cats to heck, virginity. We read an excerpt from Wendy Goldman Scherer’s piece, “The Inlaws: The Collateral Damage of Divorce“ Rebecca Soffer, co-founder of Modern Loss talks about her own grief, and why she started a site all about loss. Have a listen, and please tell us what you think in the comments below. Production Notes: Adrianna Dufay did an amazing job producing this whole shebang. Much love friend. Special thanks this week to Ben Patterson, from HeresTheThing.com for the mic loan and more. …

Being Small is the Greatest Escape

There is no such thing as quantifying loss. Loss is beyond measure, inherently both heavy and weightless, its true burden to be measured only by those who are carrying it. In that way my dead parents equals your failed business venture or your sister’s cheating spouse. We cannot assign it a hierarchy. Loss takes, and takes, and takes. This price is what equalizes. We only need know it takes. I had the hubris to write a book about walking through a season of loss in my life. I called it Falling Apart In One Piece, a bit of wordplay that pleased me, because with it, I could announce my failures and overcome them, too, in a single breath — even though the truth is, it took me almost three years to walk that distance. The night of the book’s official publication, I was feted at a party. It was a poignant kind of triumphant: I stood on the stairs in the entry hall of a friend’s beautiful suburban home, surrounded by dozens of people listening …

How My Father Became the Mother I Didn’t Have

Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day). Ugh. For those of who have lost parents and aren’t parents, these days can really suck. And while we should be celebrating what we once had (assuming we had something wonderful), it’s hard not to wallow in their absence, and what we will never have again. I sometimes wish I believed in heaven or the afterlife or reincarnation. Seems like it would make things a lot more palatable, though probably not any easier. They’re still gone. Mom got sick when I was about 11 — I have very few memories of my life before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through chemo, hair loss, remissions and the returns of the beast, I was always afraid I’d lose my mom, but never really accepted that it would happen. There was a lot of sadness and dread and anger in my formative years, which resulted in life-long fear of abandonment, as well as depression and codependence. Add to that a father who wasn’t really around. He was busy starting his own small business, …

Moby Might Have Been a Dick, But I Loved Him

Moby loved curling up in cardboard boxes and cold ceramic sinks. He had a habit of biting shoes and biting people, especially an ex-boyfriend or two. He had a protruding chin like a little man, and a marking on his side that looked like a broken heart. He’d snuggle and spoon with me at night. When I met my husband-to-be, Moby gave me his own personal nod of acceptance by not biting him. Moby would regularly knock things off shelves to wake us up, so often that we installed new cabinet doors to deter him. A big white whale of a cat, Moby was alternately named for Moby Dick or ’60s psychedelic band Moby Grape but not the electronica musician, as many suspected. His nicknames included Little Man, Mister Man, Mobius Strip, Mobus Operandi, Moby the Dick. Funny thing is, I grew up with dogs and never thought about getting a cat until a fateful day in 1995, when a crazy-seeming old lady on a street in South Philly offered up an adorable white kitten. …

The Tribe of Shared Experience: I Think it’s Called Family

We gathered over a photo: a simple mobile snapshot of a house. A stately stone and shingle suburban colonial once owned by my grandparents. In the picture, it’s a beautiful, blue-sky day. Sun glistens off the shutters. Shadowy elm tree branches appear to intertwine like figures on the windows. A row of thick green hedges seem fuller than I remember. Two flower pots sit on the walkway and welcome you with bright red begonias. Last month, my cousin had driven past our grandparents former home in Hatfield, PA, the place where my dad grew up, a place that held so many memories for all of us. He snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. Within minutes, another cousin posted: “Lots of memories there.” And so sparked a litany of comments: moments, quirks and random stuff that existed in — and only in — that house in Hatfield and in our collective brains. One thought would trigger another. “Do you remember the Plexiglass game pieces we’d play with?” “We still have those Plexiglass game pieces!” “The …