Laura Hershey, a writer, disability activist, partner, ally, friend, and mom died last Friday. She was 48.
I never met Laura in person but I am so happy that in the past year, for the first time ever, I did reach out to her online just to tell her how much her work has meant to me and how much her work and her life have influenced my own work and life. She replied with a typically generous, funny, and ass-kicking note.
One of the things I appreciated most about Laura's writing is her ability to write from a place of hope and pride, even when talking about the darkest parts of our human experience - suffering, isolation, shame, fear - without ever minimizing the pain or injustice. She was able to shine a light on things in such a way as to never wash them out, but simply allow them to be seen and understood more clearly, felt more acutely.
Beth Haller over at Media dis@dat has an wonderful review with links to Laura's work, so I'm just going to end with a paragraph from the last thing Laura published. She wrote a regular column for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation called "Life Support" and her last piece was about gratitude. Read the whole column to get all of Laura, but one paragraph from the middle, where she is listing the things she's grateful for, offers a glimpse into the ways she resists being stereotyped and pitied, and being met as an amazing, complicated, sexy human:
"I'm grateful for my body, though it often falls short. It's always had its "issues," to use a euphemism, and as I age these are multiplying. But it's who I am and how I interact with the world and other people and myself. My body hurts me and limits me more than I would like. It also receives and processes art and music and ocean breezes and delicious Vitamixed food. It sends out my voice, my voice of request and direction, my voice of protest, my voice of poetry and prose, my voice of desire. My body is my spirituality, it's all rooted right here in my skin and gut, in my clitoris and tits, in my real, weakly-beating heart and my squishy gray brain."
Read more - Celebrating the Life of Laura Hershey (official memorial page)
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