“It Makes Me Cry Only When I See My Friends Go Before Me” Ctd

A reader writes:

I could go on for pages about why I willingly and eagerly subscribed to the Dish yesterday (and paid more than the asking price).  But only your blog brings me things like the 5-minute animation of Terri Gross's interview with Maurice Sendak, which just now rendered me weeping over my lunch as I heard him describe his love for the world and for his friends who have died.  I had to go over to lock my front door, turn off the overhead lights to get some semblance of privacy, and only in writing you this email am I finally composing myself.


When he told Ms. Gross that he "hopes he goes first so he doesn't have to miss her" – you could hear Ms. Gross get taken aback, and I was too.  I simply cannot think of a nicer thing to say to another human being.  Leave it to Mr. Sendak to find the single nicest sentiment ever.

Another reader moved by the interview:

I also took your reader-centric survey a while ago and need to change a response. Until this article, I was an under-35 who had never cried as a result of a story on The Dish … no more.


Because I hadn't known much about Mr. Sendak's personality or personal history before listening to that show, the earlier interview (and the earlier part of the clipped interview) provided the remarkable context for his aging observations and attitude, from a person who doesn't seem disposed toward sentimentality.  I have seldom heard someone so intelligent be so open and apparently honest about their thoughts about life's many difficult troubles, god, and growing old, and in such concise fashion.  Some of the very aspects I so cherish about The Dish, actually, and also one of the things that Terri Gross is so often able to nudge her guests toward.

Mr. Sendak says he only cries when his friends go first.  I generally only cry when I encounter fundamentally poignant stories that make me deeply happy – if I had to force myself to cry as an actor, I would think of someone who is severely disabled who works for years, with the help of friends and family, to get to the point where they can complete a given task – to be dramatic, let's say a marathon.  I envision that person's friends and family waiting at the finish line in the cold and dark, at 4:30 in the morning (19 hours after the race started), long after everyone else had gone home, jumping up and down and cheering as their loved one completes the last block.

I was all but bawling as I sat in the Comcast parking lot last May when I heard Mr. Sendak ever so momentarily render Terri Gross speechless as he communicated how meaningful their relationship was to him.

When I composed myself, I called my wife and told her it was a must must listen (and then returned the modem).  I am not sure she ever listened to the broadcast, so I am glad you reminded me and that the NY Times and you shared this with a wider audience.


The animation of the Gross/Sendak bit is nice, but one reason Sendak opens up to her is that they had been talking for over twenty years. One of last year's great "long listens" was the replay of all their interviews, as you find here. Fresh Air rebroadcasted segments upon Sendak's death. You can hear his voice age and change after his stroke, and you can hear his concerns darken and deepen. Give yourself the time for it and you won't be sorry.

Another sends the above video:

If you haven't seen the Spike Jonze documentary about Sendak, it is wonderful.