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Taking The World Into His Arms

September 2, 2015

Oliver Sacks

Hi all, I am back–almost.  My computer has been in and out of the shop–and will go back again, but I wanted to touch base quickly to say that I had a great and instructive time this summer and I am happy to touch base again.  Also, this:

As almost everyone knows, we lost the great writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks on Sunday.  His books were enormously important to me.  He had been on my family’s bookshelves for years, and had been spoken of with such reverence from my folks, that I felt I knew him before I had read anything. Then while recovering from surgery on the couch at my folks’ place, I picked up An Anthropologist on Mars and immediately fell in love with essays.  It was clear from the first reading that he was a man in who was deeply curious and delighted by all he encountered in the world.  I never came away from his books without feeling that the world was totally broken open to me in a new way.

I will probably re-read one of his most recent meditations on dying several times throughout the rest of my life to remember how powerful the human experience is–even at the end, which Sacks described so vividly and with love.  Like every one else, I followed any and all inklings to his failing health after his announcement in February of his terminal condition.  My husband Graham was the one who broke the news to me and was not surprised when I cried openly upon hearing it.  I said, “I don’t think there is anyone I’d rather hear more from on what dying is like.”  Graham, without missing a beat, said: “I think he would love to tell us about it if he could.”

I think of him in these lines of the Mary Oliver poem “When Death Comes”:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

May we all be so fortunate to be so alive and awake to the surrounding world while we are here as he seemed to be.

2 Comments
  1. September 3, 2015 4:08 pm

    What a wonderful portrait and story about reading Oliver Sacks. I’d like to reblog it at Joyous Paradox — may I have your permission? I would, of course, credit you and link to your blog.

  2. summer permalink*
    September 3, 2015 4:20 pm

    Thanks and of course! All re-blogging *with credit* is welcome with gratitude! xo

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