A Season of Grief chronicles the author's emotional descent after the violent death of his partner of 21 years. Bill Valentine's journal of fear, anger, denial, and loneliness captures the glimmers of hope, moments of serendipity, and mysterious coincidences that emerged from his full-time devotion to grief following the death of Joe Lopes. Lopes died along with 264 others when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in November 2001 in route to the Dominican Republic. It was the second deadliest accident in U.S. aviation history.
He is a word always on my lips as I try to work him into a conversation. He is a memory that I strive to keep alive. So yes, in this sense, he is not gone. But in reality, he is. He is gone as my lover. He is gone as my life partner. He is gone as my soul mate, the only person to whom I periodically bared my soul. He is gone as my best friend, the only person to whom I ever attached that label. So pardon me while I still hang on to the notion that he is not here with me. Pardon me while I cling stubbornly to the insistence that he is gone.
Valentine's candid and thoughtful account of his heartbreaking efforts to make sense of his partner's deathand survive in a world without himis by turns, funny, frightening, sobering, and surprising. In the nine months following the tragedy of Flight 587, Valentine finds every waking moment of his life affected by his partner's absencefrom mundane household chores to major life decisions. A Season of Grief is a story told in darkness and light, of hurt and healing, love and loneliness, but mostly, of a man who learns to live with his partner's absence through the persistent, surprising evidence of his presence.
Our job on earth is to live with uncertainty, ambiguity, and hope. We are given a limited tool set but one, in my opinion, that's sufficient for the job. Sufficient to allow us to be engaged in life-to love, grieve, work, play, celebrate, and despair. We have a remarkable ability to rebound and grow. We have been granted the capacity for wonder and laughterespecially at ourselves. These last two gifts were bestowed generously on Joe and he, in turn, taught me how vital they are.
Making a strong case for gay marriage, A Season of Grief chronicles Valentine's struggles to be recognized as a surviving spouse, including a historic lawsuit with Lambda Legal Defense and Education fund against the New York State Workers Compensation Board. Valentine and Lopes took every conceivable step to formalize their relationship, including New York City Domestic Partnership, but the Workers Compensation Board and a New York State appeals court refused to recognize Valentine as a legal surviving spouse.
Grief doesn't come with a set of instructions. But A Season of Grief can help guide you through the lonely journey that follows the death of a loved one. Valentine's memoir is a testament to the healing power of reality and the enduring nature of love.
|Publisher:||Taylor & Francis|
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|File size:||3 MB|
Read an Excerpt
January 14 I’m feeling sorry for myself this evening. Having to shop, cook, take care of the cats, clean, all by myself. The cats aren’t helping, Ollie is begging for food. Loretta insists on jumping in my lap while I’m eating, even after I repeatedly tell her no.
What People are Saying About This
"BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED, CANDID, AND EXTREMELY MOVING. The intelligence, honesty, and insight with which Bill Valentine examines and expresses his feelings are extraordinarily generous and caring. I believe that this book will be a tremendous help and comfort to those who mourn, and will help us all to confront and deal with our grief and loss"
Chairman Emerita, Whitney Museum of American Art and Author of The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Grief for the loss of a loved one is not a new topic for current literature. Such luminaries as Joan Didion, Mark Doty, Andrew Holleran, and Michael Cunningham have addressed the grieving process in novel form, poetry, memoir, and homage. And new author Bill Valentine steps into that realm with a brief but richly detailed examination of death, of memory, of residual, of extended family - all of these ingredients and more that underscore the fact that perhaps the loss of his beloved Joe Lopes, his life partner of 21 years in the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in November of 2001, has provided him with a new window and a new life as a writer of obvious talent.Valentine presents his story of the 'other AA crash' that occurred in November of 2001 too soon after the 9/11 event to elicit the worldwide attention of that tragedy as a starting point to remember and recreate a relationship of such rare beauty that reading about it is staggeringly impactful. Valentine very wisely does not emphasize the mourning he endured (although his retelling of that aspect is understated and deeply touching), but instead takes the path of the 'ending' to reminisce about not only his meeting and formation of a relationship but also about the backgrounds of both him and his partner, an exceptionally quiet and private sanctuary that allows us the reader to better appreciate the aura of both men.Some write about grief and mourning in a manner that seems to dig a hole of self pity, and that is most assuredly not the direction Valentine takes. He does not avoid for a second the impact of every detail of the loss of Joe - dealing with family, with the cremation, with friends, with pets, with things shared by the couple that suddenly become the responsibility of one partner, with the 'I' that replaces the 'we' - and yet what he offers us is a warm embrace of survival technique, a memoir as lovely as any that has been written. Valentine steps quietly into the arena of artist with the publication of A SEASON OF GRIEF. Grady Harp, February 07