Naomi Shihab Nye

When my wife was dying, we were both sponges for anything that brought meaning to our experience and inspired us. Friends got in on the act, bringing us poems, art, anything that would help us connect with life while recognizing how short hers was likely to be.

I don’t remember who brought us the poem Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, but for the past 20 years, I retained the essence of the first two lines:

“Before you know what kindness really is
You must lose things,
Feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.”

The idea connected for me; that we were learning to open our hearts, to find our kindness, in the midst of this challenging time. The poem gave me a sense that this was livable, that I might be able to discover hidden treasures in the mud. So when I read Elaine Mansfield’s book, Leaning into Love, before having her on Good Grief, I was stunned to find that poem in the book, creating meaning for Elaine and her husband Vic during his illness too.

I told Elaine about it, and she immediately said, “You have to have Naomi on your show.” This was, in itself, an act of great kindness and left me in wonder at what I am offered in the process of hosting Good Grief, especially the amazingly generous people I am privileged to meet. Not only did Elaine share this idea, but she helped me to make it happen. And so, on November 4th at 2 Pacific time, I will have the great honor of welcoming Naomi Shihab Nye to Good Grief. Even better, we will be talking about her book, Transfer, which she wrote after the death of her beloved father, weaving him into the poems and speaking to their relationship and her grief.

Sometimes life hands us gifts we could never imagine. I am truly grateful for all that Good Grief brings me. Sometimes I can only whisper “thank you”.


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