"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dear Anna Quindlen

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.

With Gratitude,

Deb Shucka

photo from Flickr


Jerri said...

Interesting that you didn't recognize this truth you did not want to read. How human and true.

Traveling mercies, Anna.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I was so sad when she left the New York Times years ago. I have faith Anna will never give up that lovely commentary. She will have a new gig somewhere, soon.

Angie Ledbetter said...

She must be proud to have inspired the likes of you. :)

Jessica said...

I've heard her name before but I thought she was an author of fiction.
Sorry you'll miss out on those articles you love. :-)

Carrie Wilson Link said...

You're on parallel paths.

The Unbreakable Child said...

Hopefully she will be back into your life soon. :)

Genuine Italian Red Leather (G.I.R.L.) said...

Deb, What a lovely thankyou note. I know the helplessness when we nail a piece of ourselves to personna and they have the nerve to move on or out of their usual finding place. I don't know what I'll do if you quit your blog...


VibrantNation said...

At VibrantNation.com we don't think making room for young talent means that women 50+ have to silence themselves or retire (which is just what the marketplace has been telling us for years). We're so interested in what vibrant women like Anna Quindlen have to offer that we've offered her a job ... read more at http://www.vibrantnation.com/stephen-reily-flash-forward/2009/05/14/anna-quindlen-too-old-for-newsweek-but-not-for-vibrant-nation/

M said...

I never read Anna, but I can tell from your comments, and those of your readers, that she is an incredible woman...an writer. I hope that you send your letter to her. She may see that you have an incredible gift just as she does.


Your Bro

Anonymous said...

Dare I tell you I have not read Anna Q?!

She said...

I LOVE ANNA and I went straight to her column each time Newsweek arrived, and when it wasn't her turn, I grieved!

Love her. I'll miss her, too!

Janna Qualman said...

I've always thought it may be of benefit that my last name also starts with a Q, and I'd perhaps be next to her on the shelves one day. ;)

Amber said...

Did she say why? I wonder where she will pop up.
Anyway, well said.


kario said...

There is something about the both of you, quietly determined, open-minded, compassionate writers, that makes me smile.

Love you.

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