Dear Anna Quindlen,
Really? You're leaving me? No more twice monthly The Last Word from you in Newsweek?
When I read your last Last Word column, I missed all the clues that might have prepared me for the words, "my last LAST WORD column for NEWSWEEK" a quarter of the way into the first page. I missed "Anna Quindlen's Farewell" on the cover (distracted by the pig snout perhaps). I missed the significance of a two page column that's always been one page before. I didn't even get it with the title, "Stepping Aside."
I just dug in to your column like I have done twice a month for years now. I peek in the back to see if it's your week, then read the magazine from front to back, saving you for dessert. I always know I'll laugh and snort and more often than not want to stand up and shout, "You tell 'em, Anna!"
I didn't do any of that this time. Instead, I cried.
Your writing has been such an important part of my life for the last almost decade, I'm having a hard time imagining how I'm going to fill the gap.
I don't remember when I read your first column. What I do remember, and what I think every time I read your writing, is that I want to be able to tell the truth with as much clarity and wisdom and humor as you do. When I think of writers in whose company I want to be included, your name is at the top of the list, along with Mary Oliver, Terry Tempest Williams, and Anne Lamott.
I am so grateful you delayed leaving until after the last election. During the eight years of the Bush administration, there were times when your words helped quiet my despair at being an American represented by values so counter my own. I felt less alone, and more hopeful, because you were having the same feelings that I was.
Often your column would help me define what I believed about issues that I was unsure of. Even when I didn't agree with your views (which wasn't often), I respected your voice because I knew how carefully considered your words always were. Your ability to cut to the core of a topic with respect and without rancor, leaves me even now in a state of wonder.
I'm enjoying the irony that we occupy the same place on the Baby Boom spectrum, and that we're both stepping onto new paths at this time. Mine is the path of writer, one that you have had much to do with inspiring. It sounds like you'll continue to write, but I wonder what new adventures await you. I'll be looking for the stories you'll have to tell about them.
I wish you every joy. I'm thankful to have your example to look to. I'll miss you.
photo from Flickr