by Erin Rose Joan Didion is a master of words. Her work, her career, her ease with language is something that both inspires and frightens me. She has written in nearly every genre under the sun but I am particularly in love with her nonfiction work. I devoured the essay collection, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and then began reading nearly everything she’d ever crafted. During this past summer I encountered a particular amount of loss. My mother says people always die in threes. It’s the laws of the universe. I found myself without the proper language to discuss the grief. I am hardly ever without the proper language for anything. It is the one way I know I can communicate with the world and myself. My words are my life. One afternoon I found on the bookshelf in my sisters’ home a copy of, The Year of Magical Thinking. It was as if someone had planted it there for me. I found what I didn’t even know I was looking for.
by Erin Rose I leave tomorrow morning for Minneapolis. This one wasn’t planned. They never are. Why does it feel we are always gathering together for funerals? I request someone get married or birth a child, give us a different reason to gather. But, nevertheless, we gather. All the women will wear scarfs and pearls because we will hear Joanne whisper in our ears while we dress. I suspect we will hear her until we join her. I doubt I will ever meet another woman with as much class and elegance as my grandmother had. She set the bar high, very high, in my life; in regards of what it meant to be a lady, what it meant to be a woman, what it meant to be a person. She was tough as steel, sharp as a blade, kind as a child, smart as a scholar, and more stylish than I could ever properly appreciate. We gather because she was our leader, under her wing we were created, a legion of Mahoney’s.
By Erin Rose I think for some people there isn’t a whole lot to say when someone dies. For me it’s the opposite, it’s everything. It’s everything I ever said and everything I didn’t say. It’s canyons and oceans of time that passed between us. You for me, felt like so very long ago while you were alive, but in death feel immediate, dredging my memories to build new land on which I will lay you to rest. You, Alex, you were my golden boy. I worshipped you in a way one can only do at sixteen. I gravitated around you. Those blue eyes, that blonde hair, that laugh. You were the coolest person I had ever seen, a stone fox. But it wasn’t only me. You seemed to always have a pull like this. Everyone wanted to be near you, be friends with you, be in love with you. I infamously and debatably lost my virginity to you on the leather couch in John Lopez’s basement.