The Alchemy of Words

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I cooked. For hours. I’ve been traveling so much since the end of December that it didn’t make sense until recently to have anything more than a scant fridge and some breakfast food to start my day. And, of course, coffee. Aways, coffee.

While I cook, I like to listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is Modern Love a podcast where famous artists (actors, mostly) read columns submitted by all kinds of eclectic people (writers, mostly). I adore it–always top of my listening list. It explores the whole spectrum of love in all its powerful, connective forms. It’s poignant, tragic, sweet, laugh-out-loud funny, wipe-away-tears sad, and nearly always hopeful.

Tonight I was able to listen to one of my favorite Modern Love columns of all time by a children’s author who I adore. And, like every time I have read it, her words are captivating. If you have not, please read You May Want to Marry My Husband or listen to the podcast by the same name. I assure you it strikes at the heart of what we’re supposed to be thinking about this week and every week: the essence of love.

I’m struck by her grace in the face of dying. She uses the craft she had honed, stringing together of words, to honor the man she had devoted her life to loving. She’s able to find humor her tragedy, her own death. She is able to demonstrate the love we all hope to not only find but to embody. She is able to be strong while describing just how very weak she has become. It is magic.

I’m left marveling each time the connection she makes with me, a stranger, across time and space and even death. That connection is the alchemy of words. Words that take a love between two people and spread it exponentially to hundreds of thousands in the world.

Her letter reflects the craft of a person who used words to make sense of the world for herself, and in doing so, fell in love with that process. Her column is about her love for her husband, but it is also sharing her art with us.

I may never impact the world in the significant way Amy Krouse Rosenthal has. I may never write something even a fraction as moving as the last thing she published. But I’m happy to have the chance to keep writing, to keep discovering what I can reveal by the very exploration of that act. I’m so grateful for the never-ending discoveries words offer–both in their consumption and in their expression.

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