New essay, “Grief Work,” up now at VIDA Review

I’m so happy to share that my essay “Grief Work” is finally alive in the world on VIDA Review.

This essay was a tough one to write. It was a joy to think about, though, and I did think about it for almost three years. I went through draft after draft. I workshopped it in 2019 at the Tin House Winter Workshop. I submitted it in several forms, and ended up with more than a dozen rejections until it found its home.

Then the wonderful editorial staff at VIDA Review took over, making editorial suggestions to polish it up even more. I’m so grateful for the love and care they put into that process, and for using their platform to share my work. Below is an excerpt. You can read it in full at VIDA Review.

“The week my sibling died of a heroin-fentanyl overdose, I came back to the farm and noticed the curly willow was dead. I obsessed over it. It was an otherwise unremarkable feature of the landscape, but suddenly its absence was the only thing I saw. The gap between what once was and what was no more throbbed like a pulse, accompanied by spikes of adrenaline, shortness of breath. Symptoms my body would perfect in the weeks after their death and would hold on to for years.

The only thing that made sense to me was this: walk the yard in the midday heat, let the preternaturally hot May sun blind me, feel the energy drain from my body. My father taught me the best cure for pain was work. That may or may not be true, but I did it anyway. I dragged brittle, unwieldy branches to the fire pit one by one, set one foot in front of the other, pushed the sweat from my eyes. Grief-work is body work. It is carrying. It is sweating. There was nothing logical about it; it was all I knew. I just had to keep moving.”

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