Let me get this out of the way: I’m really not a cool kid, so I’m just going to let the awkward fangirl in me hang out. I love Catapult literary magazine, and pretty much all of the work they’re doing, honestly. The writing is diverse, engaging, and spans a variety of perspectives and topics. The caliber is high, but the work is accessible. And they pay for work, which is something that’s harder and harder to come by if you write personal essays. (My rant on “exposure is a good way to die from the elements” is for another day, another time.)
My essay, “My Brother Died from a Heroin Overdose,” was published yesterday on Catapult.
The response has been a bit stunning, and I mean that in the best way. It’s easy to feel like you’re writing, shouting, or publishing into a void sometimes. The personal, heavy subject matter can intensify that, bringing an element of fear to the whole process. In this case, I received emails, Facebook messages, comments, texts, tweets and more from people sharing their own stories. Given how I searched and searched for work to engage me in this way after my brother died — in short, a way to feel less alone — the fact that others were genuinely appreciative and honest about their own experiences was the most moving part about this. There’s something that feels a bit kismet, a bit full-circle about this.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Instead, we do the things we do for the dead. Except I realize I have no idea how to do any of those things. Death is a direct assault on everything I believe. I’ve been so privileged, moving through the world for so long relatively unscathed, with precise expectations about how things will be handled in times of mortal crisis. There’s very little intuition to go on. My own ignorant expectation was that others would swoop in to help take care of it. To help clean up. To clean out the apartment, to go through the documents, to decide what to keep and what to give away, to find and identify the body, to slog through all the endless, stupid decisions at the funeral home. To bury or to cremate? To host a public or private viewing? To host a memorial or not?”
You can read the full piece on Catapult.
I knew your brother through FRMC and he was always very kind and respectful. I am sorry that he couldn’t find peace on this earth. No family should ever have to get that call. The story you wrote was a beautiful tribute to him. So sorry for your loss.
Jen, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m glad you knew him that way — despite all of his challenges and struggles, he really was a beautiful soul and taught me more than any other human on this planet.