After a colleague’s death, casting off baggage

It is a rare day that you can start with writing that can only be described as courageous. Today is one of those days.

Twin Cities writer David Brauer has been processing his past since the death of New York Times columnist David Carr, with whom Brauer worked.

Writing in Minnesota Monthly, Brauer describes the scars that remain after our relationships move on. He called Carr a “personality tornado.”

Tornadoes move where they want, with little regard for what stands in their way. Over time, I was punctured by debris — a betrayal; bullying sensitive colleagues (even after he was sober); maltreating women, some referenced in his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun.

I had become the pinched one, unable to enjoy the elephant’s dance. David was generous to me in his book, acknowledging an incident I had actually forgiven him for. But as David’s fame grew, I became as addicted to my wounds as he had been to cocaine. Mine was one part righteousness—memorializing the unreconciled injuries of those left behind—and several parts jealousy, as my career went sideways while his rocketed up.

Brauer describes at least three stages of grief in his short essay, and reminds us — intentionally or not, perhaps — of the baggage we need to drop while we still can.

  • Anna

    My brothers, sisters and I had a rather rocky childhood as my father has bipolar disorder and did not receive treatment until my sister and I were almost out of high school.

    Their failure to intervene on his behalf today while my oldest sister manipulates his medication and refuses to come clean about his current medical condition is, I believe, directly tied to incidents that happened during our childhood and their unwillingness to forgive.

    We have to have the courage to admit that we are still angry and begin to live in the here and now. What happened in the past has nothing to do with the present and just leads to illness and ill temper.

    A few summers ago, when my father was still living with my sister, we had a conversation about what happened between him and my mother. His 86 year-old eyes filled with tears as he admitted he had done some awful, regretful things to my mother. I told him quite emphatically that Mom had forgiven him years ago and it served no useful purpose to fret about it now, that we had to live in the present and not in the past.

    The past doesn’t need “to tread on the heels of the present.” The act of forgiveness can be very cathartic and can add a whole new dimension to your life.

  • MrE85

    Been doing some casting off of baggage myself since my father’s death.