Monday, March 16, 2015


My transcription of an interview on Fresh Air with Maurice Sendak, shortly before his death.

I'm not unhappy about becoming old.  I'm not unhappy about what must be.  It makes me cry only when I see my friends go before me.  I don't believe in an afterlife, but I still fully expect to see my brother again.  It's like a dream life.  … There is something I'm finding out as I'm aging, that I'm in love with the world.  As I look out my window now as we speak together out my window, and I see my trees, my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old … I can see how beautiful they are, I can take time to see how beautiful they are.

 It is a blessing to get old.  It is a blessing to find the time, to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music.  You know, I don't think I'm rationalizing anything, I really don't.  This is all inevitable since I have no control over it and nothing but praise now, really, for my life.  I'lm happy. I cry a lot because I miss people.  I cry a lot because they die, and I can't stop them.  They leave me, and I love them more. 

But I have my young people here, four of them, who are studying and they look at me as somebody who knows everything.  Poor kids.  Oh God, there are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready. 

Almost certainly I'll go before you go so I won't have to miss you.  And I don't know whether I'll do another book or not, I might. It doesn't matter.  I'm a happy old man but I will cry my way, all the way, to the grave.  I wish you all good things.

 Life your life, live your life, live your life. 

--Maurice Sendak

Dead Fly

My kid got sent to his room 20 minutes before bedtime for spitting at his sister.  They'd been fighting about how to feed the pets.  He wrote her a note of "sincere apology" but still couldn't come down.  My daughter and I sat on the couch looking at pinterest and listening to the Rich Mullins station on my new ipad.

I found him at the top of the stairs hunkered down over something small.  It was a wounded fly.  He was poking at it with a small scrap of paper, managing to pick it up and watch it walk around.  I encouraged him to flush it down the toilet, which he started to do but then changed his mind about. 

When I told him good night in his bed, I asked what he did with the fly.  He said, "I made a paper airplane for it and flew it out my window."  He seemed genuinely sad, and it was hard to convince him about the impracticalities of keeping a fly as a pet.

Five minutes ago, 45 minutes past his bedtime, he appeared at my side, thumb in mouth, very sad.  I asked if something was wrong.

"The fly.  He was just flying around and then banged into the wall and crashed down."

"Well, he probably wasn't a very smart fly then."

These lamentations for a wounded fly are coming from the same kid who put a clothes pin on his dog's ear tonight "because I wanted to see if it hurt animals the way it hurts people."

Kids are illogical in so many ways, and if I were a better mother, I might figure out what the sadness about the fly means.