Honoring His Loss: Aleksandar Hemon's Heartbreaking Story

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You don't know what you will find when you decide to take an hour and sort through the magazines that have lately arrived. Typically I read The New Yorker back to front. Not today.  I simply opened the June 13/20 issue and let the pages fall where they may. It was the Personal History page, a story titled "The Aquarium." It was Aleksandar Hemon, a writer whose not-quite-a-novel, The Lazarus Project, I had genuinely loved.

In the heat of the day, I began to read: "On July 15, 2010, my wife, Teri, and I took our younger daughter, Isabel, to the doctor for a regular checkup. She was nine months old and appeared to be in perfect health."

These are the simplest, most straightforward of words. Not meant as poetry or artistry, but as brutal and most terrifying fact.

We can't live Hemon's story by reading it. We cannot take away the pain. We cannot learn more about how to survive or what to offer those who somehow must survive the hardest imaginable things. And  yet there I was with The New Yorker on my lap, reading Hemon's story through, searching my own soul for something to say, some way to reach out, some absolute fiber of meaning, but no: I could only read and only feel this great and unappeasable sadness.


Beth F said...

No words for this -- beautifully said. I cannot imagine the sadness.

Kristin said...

Exactly. This story was haunting and terrifying, and I'm sorry I read it. I don't think Hemon was ready to share this story in a way that had value for his readers.

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