It can feel easier to leave things unspoken than to find the right words to explain ourselves. But sooner or later, the things we keep from each other can come to define our relationships. This edition of Modern Love features a playlist of three of our favorite episodes about secrets, read by Danielle Brooks, Cynthia Nixon, and Uma Thurman.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love. The podcast is supported by. produced by the island at W B. You are the. Oh the from the New York Times and W B- U R Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnetron puberty, the modern love will be back with brand new episodes. In two weeks Today, we're bringing you some of our favorite past episodes we put together a playlist, featuring three stories about the secrets that can define a relationship, starting with Essay by Amelia blend Kara about a secret. Her father tried to keep
Daniel Brooks, is best known as tasty. On the Netflix Series, Orange is the new black which recently released its sixth season on Netflix. She The millions essay about that Russell in the bushes When my sister Ardell first told me about the binder, I could feel my body tense a younger version of me would have immediately dialed my father and confronted him, because Who would believe that my seventy seven year old Father Google Stocks, my boyfriend, and keeps a binder of his salvage details and opinions for reference. But years if there we taught me to wait ten seconds before automatic. exploding with anger. So in this case I was able to keep cool long enough to decide to bring it up later with him in person. If you were to look at the term, helicopter parenting in the Wikipedia of Mine
You would see a picture of my parents. It would be the ones in the healing the is military chopper used in the Vietnam WAR. noisy and clunky. My parents made their presence known. My childhood house. They read mail address to my siblings in me, it's through drawers and open doors without knocking it was the norm. them to be invasive and their lack of respect for people The sea annoyed me although my siblings weren't, as forthcoming with my parents, about their lives. I always Then the truth it took me a while to figure out if they didn't want a true retelling of events, but the one that fit the fiction of how they thought my life should be My parents were more attuned to the upbeat experiences. The rough patches were harder for them to process.
Not long after. I learned about the binder my father asked about the man. I was then dating a newscaster I decided to play it cool to see if he would come clean about it. That guy was all over the media, my father need to look very hard to find him later when visit in my appearance for the holidays, my father asked. Don't know he used to be married. I used to be married to I said yes, but you have no idea why he got divorced. My father tried to Find me for more information. But the newscaster had told me what I needed to know, and that was good enough for me by the way moving closer to where he was sitting at his desk.
how do you know he was divorced, is on the internet? He said innocently smiling as if to do use, the mounting tension. Our dynamic has always been tumultuous. We argue a lot men in the past, I have told me. I have a tone that sarcastic and marking a tone that Brad, cast to the receiver. I think you're, an idiot my mother doesn't have this voice. I must mimic my father, I know about the binder dad and finally said Bell told me, show it to me what I don't know what you're talking about. He said I All told me that you have a binder with information on the people. I've dated he squirmed, but No confession:
did. He believe he wasn't doing anything wrong. I was calling his bluff do I need to ask mom, I said to their credit. My pair act as a unit. Even if one of them has a wacky idea, they always back each other up. Mom. Can you show me the binder? I shouted into the other room. Did you ask Father she shot back. I don't know what. Talking about It was obvious she knew she's. A terrible liar. I looked at my father, he Smurf a and then blurted out How am I going to protect you all? He is physically, agile and mentally acute for a senior citizen.
he is not in any shape to be a vigilante on my behalf. His world view too, is a bit skewed. He delights in news stories about corruption, scandals and suspicious activities. Some about doomsday movies play hates him whereas my mother used to take my siblings in me to see the latest Disney found. My father said with us in front of the television to watch soil and green and blade runner among others. the apocalypse came. He wanted us to be ready, My father's mentoring, I understood that the world wasn't cuddly and charming, but dark and sinister. It wasn't that my father was trying to frighten or upset my siblings in me. Rather, I think he was showing us through the movies, never to accept life at face value, as
adult I chose sunny and sweet It just seemed less anxiety provoking that way. I buy the room to see if my father had the audacity to keep my dating binder on the shelf. With his other records, he kept files on all his doctors each two inch. plastic binder, bind labeled with the physician, his name written on surgical tape with a black sharpie marker other than details about my father's specific ailments. Each doctors binder contained Print out of whatever personal and professional information, my father could assemble. If nothing else, he was a meticulous record keeper but he wouldn't give up my binder. So you know gonna. Let me see it asked. I don't know what you're talking about it. father hadn't, become an engineer. He would have made
a great spy they. He tried to contain his obsessive worry after I left for college, but every so often he would show up And there would be again like the time he visited my Brooklyn apartment and insisted on buying me. Electrical outlet covers, as if I were still an infant who might stick a fork into the socket, his concerns abated when I was married, because there was another person to worry about me, but his protective instincts came back Triple strength after I was divorced in the moment, here's what I knew he had a binder my mother denied it. My sister had seen it yet my phone, wouldn't confess because he knew his actions were overstepping my boundaries Did he really think I can take care of myself that offended me
in years past. His constant second guessing escalated into blowouts. I was shouting matches had made us both feel terrible afterwards, this time around. I wasn't going to let it reach that level. I knew I could take care of myself Even if some of my previous relationships hadn't worked out, I still trust my judgment I was willing, to take on the risk. My father just needed to tell me the truth about the binder. Well, if you're gonna keep a file I said at least let me help you pick out the articles. My father turn on his computer and we scroll through various articles written by the. castor, not a Google stalker, myself we've seen what came up his writing was informative and smart. The video clip showed his sense of humor.
There definitely was enough material for a private investigator to find this guy. He was hiding in plain sight at this point I thought my father would cracked but he stubbornly held his ground. Obviously this was his. To reinsert some control into my world even If he wasn't around to witness it, I thought I could handle a small bit of intrusion. needed to negotiate and understanding you, research, the men I'm dating I offered, but I don't want You tell me what you find unless the guy has a criminal record, I like to know that, but nothing else, okay. He said turning back to computer. He was doing his best to hide his anxiety, but all the sighing and loud typing betrayed him. His fears were so he would need to learn to manage for himself and then,
felt something a hand before regarding his overbearing ways. Tenderness, it felt oddly comforting to know that my father has my back in his paranoid way since I don't have children, I asked my brother Arturo what he thought, as the parent of two pre teenage daughters, would he behave in the same way? I think need to control their lies will diminish as they age he said, but weight gain in resurgence as I age he offered this sanguine observation trying to stay in touch and be involved, I'll be in a covert manner. True so I've decided not to fight it anymore, but I intend to warn any love interest not to post anything on my facebook wall, because my personal private
investigator is only a click away and anything suspicious is take me to go on his permanent record Danielle Brooks reading Amelia Blank Harris Essay about that rustle in the bushes. This is usually when we hear from the author who wrote the story you just heard, but where sad to say that Amelia bunk. A died unexpectedly in March of two thousand seventeen due to complications from hypertension. She was just forty seven years old, her father, are RO and sister Ardle agreed to tell us more about Amelia and they were thrilled to you're that her modern of peace was being shared on the pod cast, a thinking, that has been really
excited and really pleased that her work was being valued. That's ardelle, who told us that writing was actually Amelia's third career. She worked in publishing, and then spent twelve years as a lawyer before in ruling in Colombia, as Emma Fade Nonfiction programme, raining was self fulfilling to her and She was just a very generous student and a very just generous human being and was very thoughtful in the classroom. Amelia so taught workshops and led student writing groups at Columbia, and why and all olive her students have able to send us condolences what an sharing she had and she created this atmosphere within the classroom that enable people to feel vulnerable and to feel safe in sharing their writing Amelia knew this vulnerability. Well, her modern love this was one of many personal essays. She had published.
didn't show the essay to her father before exposing his google stocking ways to millions of readers, but Arturo didn't deny a word of it I know more than she knows about your dates because I go there, When you went to school amber and a protective birther see Arturo is eighty four years old and lives in Florida with Emilius, mother Fleur de Lis. He no longer, as Amelia's binder, but he does. You'll have the ones he created on his sons, wives, but didn't know it. They don't know. Now they do that. don't you think it's a little bit crazy to actually create like a dossier on every single person. and that your children has ever dated there had her Amanda interest in I'm just too.
Ok see if you're in you use your head, but you don't use your mindset so have to do behind your have to be like it but love. She thanks dad, We just need your decision, that's all Amelia did the deciding for herself in her own life from romance to career, to travel. She spent am in Brazil, Spain and the Philippines, where her family is from Oakland. She became deeply involved in her community garden and in the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust she used her law degree to create sustainable legal structure for the organization and that or a combination of her of gardening and her legal background and the rating was common eating in a proposal for a book that she had had a working title of citizen gardener and was about the fight to New York, city's community gardens from development
citizen gardener was Amelia's thesis project at Columbia. Ardell. excepted Amelia's MF on her behalf last month and she's with Amelia's professors to find a way to finish the project Arturo told us that Amelia's wide network of students, classmates and gardeners has made the impact of her loss even greater it remembered. they soon minute. They burn she's, happy contributing open, and I learned a lot from her. You must give birth to other peppers to touch. What is it? pick you up. I miss her laugh. I miss. Currently, I miss her her wit and I keep
wanting to continue on her work and her spirit, embittered good book to help my daughter, man, my wife, love her and we her so much our two Rubin Kara I love Emilia Kara. We also heard from Amelia sister Ardell Jolo, see pictures of Amelia and her family on our website. W B, U R, DOT, Org, slash, modern love the the as editor of the modern love column for the New York Times, Daniel Jones gets to know these stories inside out
news of Amelia. Sudden passing gave him a different perspective on her essay. It's tempting to look at an essay, that's taken from a life as this complete peace, but they aren't. set pieces and the lives go on and things change, and this is a piece that just takes whole new meaning and a whole new resin and just a tragic, All of how protective love can really only go so far. You know you can't it's just such a parent's nightmare to think you've, children out into the world- and you have to go of them, and you think they're going to be okay, everybody's going to be okay, that's just the way that it works out and hollows you out to think of this story, in that context of a father who cared so deeply tried so hard, In this way, it really young affects you.
more stories about secrets. After the break.
I love, spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes, when I open up spelling bee- and I see- but you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together- and I always took it out- I think I got it see it J, a c k, P, o t jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond nice, I'm same as earth's sky. The digital pulses editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games, do
and children ever stop getting to know one another Mary Alice Hostile. all of her substance to the test Tony Ford when her Cynthia Nixon reads: Mary Alice S, a dear dad, we ve been gay for a really long time. The letter was not mine, although my Their charms- and I had spent so much time talking about it- that I some ownership. I was San Francisco for the Thanksgiving Holiday- and we Read and re read the letter he was planning to send to my father changing. word here and there arranging sentences. I yesterday he replaced gay with homosexual the word My father was more likely to have heard usually in the same sentence with abomination from the pulpit of the Mennonite
church, he and my mother had attended for decades. I was supportive of my brother respected his car. and was flattered that he valued my opinion about something so important, but I didn't I understand you really think he needs to know. I asked how is this going to help him? It's not for him Charles said I'm doing this for me I'm over sixty years old and he still say I'll get married. If I find the right woman, it's not like he's her What did you? I said he the sun rises and sets on his doctor. Sons, I don't know what he'll do with this
but I need him to know who I am. I told my partner later Charles is obsessed with that letter seems important to him for your father to know she said, our fathers doing the best he can. I said he never and beyond eighth grade and he spent a farmer his whole life, his worlds, pretty narrow, he's ninety five, something like this, no telling how he'll take it you may as well. Let it go. She said. the next morning my brother asked if I wanted to walk with him to the mailbox
and was glistening off the buildings on the San Francisco skyline against a brilliant blue sky. We walk to Filmore and I watched him drop the letter into the mailbox slot there. It goes. He said no taking it back now, I said, took the long way home. through Alamo Square Park, the iconic painted ladies lined up in the morning light. I wonder, who'll visit first after he gets the letter, my brother said who get to process it with him. Two of our eight brothers live near his nursing home in Pennsylvania and checked in on every week. I know it goes every Wednesday afternoon. I said, and I think I goes on Friday hey. This is psychiatrist Ike I heard farmer and Mennonite Deacon. There are
All of us, siblings, altogether doubted get there by Wednesday. My brother said. my partner and I flew back to Virginia and the busy. If catching up at work and preparing for the holidays distracted me from wondering when the news would hit the family grapevine, it didn't take before the report started trickling in each tidbits. So from Portugal I began to keep a record, so I wouldn't forget Ike, the farmer brother was the first one. My father showed the letter to. Did you notice, my father asked everyone pretty much knows it. I sure didn't father said: had no idea by the following Wednesday, when aid visited, my father had more questions. How does this happen? Abe said seem. Some people are just born that way, aura
out of the board that way, about one in ten. They estimate well, if it's how people are born It sure doesn't seem like something that should tear families apart that proclamation rippled up and down the family, great fine and at sea did, should echo down the halls of Fairmont Nursing Home, the nurses stations and across the fields to the plain brick mennonite churches. after my father received and processed my brother's letter, he seemed to spend a good deal of time. In his sunny room contemplating this new reality It was clear he gave some thought to the one in ten theory and from his vantage point overlooking the nursing home entrance, he counted Visitors wondering heat, to visiting family members
unmarried relatives neighbors when my younger brother Sanford visited my father said you know, I've been thinking about Eli Eli was an amish neighbor. Those years he worked at farm by himself. I remember when he was younger. He dated girls, but it work out for him. I wonder if was the story with eli- makes me feel bad. never found someone and then question started about me makes me wonder about Mary Alice. My father said what about her. I guess you should ask her Sanford said. Of course, my father wasn't going to
It wasn't the sort of thing we would talk about. When said, told me about the conversation I knew was time to clear things up to. Let my father know that I was part of the one in ten. I could have patched sibling to deliver my news. I could have how did it to my hearing, impaired Father over the phone or on my next visit, a letter seemed like the most reliable way to communicate. After my brother's courageous letter, I knew mine would be anticlimactic not only because my brothers came first, but also because I was one of four daughter and in our family, especially from my father's point of view, nothing about being a daughter appeared to have the same import as it would have from a son. So I wrote my letter and sent it, but during
My next visit, the subject never came up. My father was as welcoming to my partner in me, as he always had been. I considered asking him about the letter, but never did had my mother's still been alive, The conversation would have been outsourced to her. They I lived at the nursing home together for a couple of years before she died at ninety five. Just a few ex after they celebrated their seventy fourth anniversary. For you, after she died, my father glanced, with her chair when he needed to tell her something and I'm sure he would have liked to know she thought of the letters I can only. Hope she would have been as understanding as my father was, but I'll never know. The nursing home where my parents lived was run I conservative Mennonites and was
instantly, recognized for the quality of its care and its cleanliness. Any of the staff members considered their work, a religious calling. A steady stream of volunteers, cleaned the residents eyeglasses shine the shoes, massaged feet and filled the halls and chapels with music my father ate his meals in the main dining hall, but in stood on a full size refrigerator in his room to store Is Turkey Hill Black Cherry ICE cream, which my brothers, make sure he always had he kept the and spoke in the refrigerator, along with pretzels and pink mince for the children, he served himself a snack each evening as one of a handful of men in the nursing home, my father much sought after by the widows he made it that he had no intention of re marrying, but he did
invite some of them over for a bowl of ice cream now and then. His vision of heaven included, reuniting with our mother. although he was longing for that time. He first wanted to live. to be one hundred or at the very at least live long. More than his older brother, who had I just short of ninety nine. In time my father's focus on who was or wasn't gay abated the re. but a blend it into the landscape of carefully tended farms stretching as far as he see from his nursing home window. Sometimes I liked to imagine him sitting in the sun room with the three other men in his wing, all of them hard of hearing, Shouting and I have two children who are gay. What do you make of that.
My father died ten years ago, a week short of his hundredth birthday. I think it gave him peace knowing all twelve of his children, I found someone with whom to share their lives If he's with my mother in Heaven, I hope he's brought her up to date on family news. If he's in the light of their his amish neighbour. I expect he's told him how sorry he is that he had to work the farm by himself, all those years recently Many of the Mennonite churches in Lancaster County Pennsylvania decided to split from Mennonite Church USA which has chosen to allow openly gay members the only as important as church to my parents was family.
I'm glad they didn't live to see this time with church or family win win. My father speak up against his church to tell people it's not the sort of thing, to tear families apart last after eighteen years together, my long time partner and I married- I don't know what my parents would have made of that, but I wish they could have been there. Cynthia Nixon reading Mary Alice hostages, essay dear dad, we've been gay for a really long time
the. Mary Alice was lives in Charlottesville Virginia with her wife. Terry she says she never realized how important it was to come out to her father until she did and while the letter never came up in conversations, she assumes he read it because he never again. and asked her siblings about why she wasn't married just recently, He was cleaning out some files on her computer and ran across the letter. She read some of it to us. I have a great deal of respect for Charles in his courage. To be honest with you, I also have a great deal of respect for the way in which you have responded that honesty, if all parents, whereas understanding as you, it would make the world a better place for people like who so many want to judge and persecute. I appreciate the example you have given us and accepting people for who they are.
And in honoring family, no matter what our differences might, Mary Alice says her father was a simple man, a farmer he was also deeply religious. I think his response came from a place of Sort of very simple basic, practical thinking, if someone says that's how you're born, then it doesn't make sense to make a deal out of it. It's just who you are so, I think sometimes there's a great deal of wisdom and in that low I simplicity, and that is where his response came from. She says bulk of the responses to her essay were positive and she's thankful for that, but it was the act of Wishing these words that made this a transformative experience when I call the article in the times the essay
Of course, I had moments of disbelief. There would have been a time in my life that nothing would have been more unlikely than that of honesty, even among people I know fairly well, so seeing it there in the New York Times was remarkable and made me feel so so I don't want to say powerful, but something like powerful, the Alice Ellis. She lives in Charlottesville Virginia and is currently writing a memoir about her life growing up in a mennonite community. Dan Jones. Is the editor of modern love for the New York Times. He says over the past Thirteen years submissions to the column have mirrored societal change. How come
out when this column started her coming out as gay just for the average person could, still be a story than it quickly. not a story, but the start of this delayed effect. Depending on the community, urine and typically it is a good example and Marianne S a story that the people are much older? You know they ve been together for decades in some cases, so this is a case where coming out you know Two thousand and sixteen when this He ran is still a story in certain communities and a very moving one, and it made- this idea of social change like it. It really just makes you think that it's dominoes being knocked over and the very last one is knocked over like it's, not something that goes to a certain point and then stops.
Dan manages the modern love Facebook page so keep up with his musings throughout the week by checking out facebook dot com. flash modern love since Nixon says the stoicism of the father in this piece appealed appeal to her my mother's mother's family is from Missouri and I always remember when my mother it seeing a man that she was eventually with her almost thirty five years. Who is jewish when she talked to her great Who was like a second mother to her she curious to know whether my great aunt would have any negative reaction to that and my and Edna sort of scrunched up her face and said, oh they're, so much more important things than that kind of thing to worry about and that My great ants attitude and her proclamation to me echoed the patriarch,
a sentiment, and I think there is running through a Middle America that kind of love people make up their mind and not making a fuss and having what we would consider it degree of enlightenment, but it's just practical common sense. two. Why would we worry about such a thing again to Cynthia Nixon she's currently running. For governor of New York after the break with the.
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see, but you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o t jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond nice, I'm same as earth's sky. The digital pulses editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games.
I found the driver's name from a police report. I ve been filed in Florida. Seventeen years before the report was torn increased and incorrect. It said a boy was crossing the street on his bicycle, but there In two boys in the road that day and no bike it said the boy was hit and his body was thrown nineteen yards, but he wasn't thrown. He was dragged that far. caught in the dangling chains of the landscaping trailer hitch to the truck. It said someone fled. The scene that someone was my older brother Alex and he didn't flee. He draw the bucket of fish he and Jonathan, had caught and rushed virtuous friend, but the boy was already dead.
Alex had just turned fifteen. This is the day We never spoke about Thurman reading, an essay by Jessica, sensing and Rica's. It's called the accident, no one talked about we were born one year and three months apart, but look like twins with our rules but lips and irish blue eyes. For the accident we were inseparable we had our own rooms, but often shared my bed when we were little when we got I big for that Alex started, sleeping on my bedroom floor in the dark. We joke about of the things we could buy if someday, we won the lottery House made of pizza for him and an island full of monkeys. For me,
Alex told me go stories until I was too scared to fall asleep. He would reach up from the floor. To hold my hand, letting go somewhere between midnight and morning after the accident,. Alex, never slept in my room again. On the way to the funeral, And told him that what had happened was God's will that this was part of a much bigger plan. On the way home as a slept. They told me that maybe it was better if we didn't bring it up again. So when I heard Alex crying in his room at night, I, aid, where I was wrapped in my comfort her and I didn't bring it up.
When Alex was nineteen, he dropped out of college. even though he had always been the smart one. Honor roll son and I didn't bring it up at twenty three when he was first arrested on charges of driving under the influence and it twenty four when he went to jail for reckless driving and a two thousand five hundred and twenty six, and twenty seven when he was getting high in the morning and drunk at night. I never brought it up instead my parents posted his bail. I paid off his credit cards. and if you needed a ride or rent money, one of us came through when none of that work to change him. I took a different tack I started yelling at him to grow up. Take risks civility, stop drinking start working and go back to school
then I would soften and say how much I loved him and how proud of him I was when he got a job waiting tables, and yes, I would help culinary school and yes, he his girlfriend could stay with me whenever they visited New York City and no there was nothing. I wanted more than to see him happy again when none of that worked I still didn't bring it up, until one night, when we were thirty and thirty one And I offhandedly and uncomfortably asked for dinner, if you ever thought about the day, Jonathan died. Oh now, to talk about that, he shot back with a laugh. and in that moment I felt his fear over our silence, you
need to worry about it. Now had been communicating before we could even speak This conversation, we didn't have words for. Do you remember, I asked him, seven and you got that awful haircut and then I begged mom for a matching mullet. He smiled but said nothing and how much you like swing dancing when we were kids. So I let you Act as all those dips and throws on me, even though I knew I would end up on the ground, did that for you. He said you liked swing. Not me. The point I wanted to make. I didn't know how was that I missed sharing a life with him
Later we both went home and let the silence continue to grow. I was desperate to reconnect I'm convinced that the only way to do so was to get as close as I could to the when his life split into a before and an after, I needed to talk to someone who knew what Alex knew, who had seen what Alex had seen I searched the online archives of our hometown newspaper and scrolled for hours. Until I found Jonathan's name in a write up about the accident After a dozen phone calls, I tracked down the police report. They couldn't mail me a copy, but said I was welcome to come to the station, see it for myself. so, not long after I flew to Florida. And did just that
sitting on a swivel chair in the police stations, cramped archives office. I ran my finger over my brother's sloppy teenage script. signature underneath his witness statement I read. I could almost hear his voice. traffic was speeding up. There wasn't enough time. Reached the sidewalk first and when Turned around Jonathan was In the middle of the road. I saw him get hit. when the ambulance came. I had to go across ST and tell his mother. I wrote down the driver's name and later found his phone number listed online. The time I was back in New York. I had thought of one hundred
Reasons not to call, but I had to he knew what Alex had been through on the sixth ring. He picked up yeah hello, please don't hang up. I said. I told him my name and explained that I wanted to know about an accident. He was involved in back and ninety ninety nine too Boys were crossing the street and I was the sister of the boy who lived there. Choice was the hardest I ever made in my life. He said. told me that by the time he saw both boys in the road he was already too close we swerved onto the sidewalk he would hit Alex if you didn't, he would hit Jonathan. All I know is there, were two boys in front of me, he said. I had to decide in that very moment.
It was so fast I It was not to hit your brother that day. What kind of choice is that I pinched the place between my four finger and thumb a trick. I picked up in college to keep from crying. I said there were questions. I wanted to ask, but it was all If you didn't remember, every detail It was a long time ago. Not for me. He said I for three hours. He spoke about his pain, frustrations with his family when they didn't understand, about his lost jobs and addictions, about how he never married or had children
into him felt like the closest I could come to holding Alex's hand again. I told him, I wanted to find a way to take away my brother's pain. You can't he said, But if you want a lesson it, got to listen. What, if he won't talk to me, ask again he said. he'll come round and once those words start coming, you'll realize that asking was the easy part. Listening is the hard part. And that's what you have to do. I hung up the phone but didn't stop there. I tracked down the witnesses who testified in court? The on scene, paramedic,
the emergency room doctor and the nurse who sat with Jonathan's mother at the hospital. Were I heard the more Alex's story became defanged. A year after that first phone call I met with my brother and told him about it people I had spoken to and what they had said and his ears. it was to confirm and correct each detail. That was my opening and his. Later I was able to ask, but no one in our family ever had You just start at the beginning and tell me everything and he did. when I see Alex today at thirty three. I no longer see someone who is stuck in one memory? I see a
father to two beautiful little boys and a committed partner Woman, he will one day marry I see a man who works harder than anyone. I know waking up to The restaurant on holidays and weekends, because he no longer needs or wants the kind of help I offered before. I learned that asking and listening by the most valuable of all the Uma Thurman reading the Sid and no one talked about by Jessica. Since in Henrik is Jessica,
is that she still feels guilt and shame about the silence that grew around this incident. For so long I felt that I wasn't strong enough to stand up and say what's wrong. Can I help I'm here? I care You know those words are so powerful and as a young girl I didn't stand quite yet the power that they had, and so to sit there night after. Night and listen to him cry and know that he was suffering and feel so hopeless, I think I feel a little bit still a little bit of shame about that period, but you know what same time. I am very forgiving to my younger self and that's taken a lot of time to learn, She remains profoundly moved by her conversation with the driver who hit Jonathan and she's is that when they spoke, she didn't anticipate that the driver would open up to her lay he did or that is Experience would sound so much like her brothers,
there was so much similarity. There was a and there was losing jobs. There was relationships that didn't work out. There was alcoholism. There was you no just this pain. This pain that rippled, through the every life that I saw rippling through my brother's life and limb to the driver. Tell his story, it was just so well for me, because I was adding to it as though it was my brother speaking, but a few days After that conversation Jessica got a call from the driver sister she was very angry because her brother had come Her in so much pain, telling her about this phone call and what had happened, and it just stirred all of these things back up for him. and in that moment, when she was Letting me know what she thought of me: All I saw was. that she was a woman who was a sister and she
Doing or attempting to do exactly what I had done She was trying to protect her. and she was trying to take away all of his pain. And so at the end of that phone call, she said, do not count, text him again and I had to say you're right and then I ll both know. I assured them that I would step back Jessica, Jonathan's mothers are still friends and book says she thought deeply about the impact that telling this story might have on their family? I we battled with the idea of how much should people have to relive You know just writing the opening scene. I I was only thinking of her if ever reads this will it will this be more painful for her to read than it has to be.
I'm not sure had the family responded. They ve not reached out to me. I have not heard a response from them by I'm. Ok with the idea of somebody being silent and that necessarily being a negative thing, and how is Alex doing now is beautiful. He is my favorite person in this world and has two little boys and he's such a good father he's such a good brother and he's just a good man, and I know that that has not come easily for him, and I I'm completely aware of the fact that he will always have he will always have to try harder than other people to be ok,
Jessica also knows that nearly two decades later Alex is burdened by what happened that day when it comes it's trauma. There is no end, it is part of you and it doesn't go away even when it's faced, it doesn't disappear. Experience still exist in him, and I think the idea of removing it or trying to get to the point where your quote quote over it. That is a r impossible aim, six says that the accident and her face. his response to it has helped the way she's raising her own son. And she's learned one overarching lesson. If you love someone, you have to ask what and when they say nothing nothing's wrong. You have to ask again and if, for whatever reason, you stop asking a conversation will never happen
those conversations this conversation in this story, it has the power to heal. it doesn't have the power to change history. It doesn't have the power to take away. What is what happened. It has the power to heal, moving forward ask Jessica in Henriquez she's, a writer Living in New York, city and working her first memoir the hears Uma Thurman. I feel that this is a beautiful essay about healing and about love, and I think this writer.
She has an enormous courage and obviously very deep love for her brother I think this is a story about how you can can. can you to heal throughout your life in a mostly significant ways with an open heart. The thanks again to Uma Thurman for reading this week's essay. The Dan Jones says he published this essay because it explores the consequences of ignoring trauma in a way. It's a vindication of it's like never too late to talk about these are the sort of long buried pains. from childhood, and it took it's a real lesson in as difficult
Those conversations are as much as you don't want to have them as much as you want to think you're, fine and just move on how Wouldn't those conversations are and how important asking questions of a kid who's who's For the traumatized mm Man. I want to answer the questions, but you gotta keep asking you gotta, give him a given the chance to talk through all that differ. Material, modern love is a production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston. Npr station is produced directed and edited by Jessica, Albert Caitlin, O and John Parodi sound design and original scoring by Matt Reed is Louisa judge the yeah for the modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin
This add those are executive producer. Daniel Jones is the editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show music for the part ass. The courtesy of a p m I made Chakrabarti, we'll see you next week. The.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-16.