One of our Literary Mamas has lost her son.
Katie Granju, a former editor for Literary Mama, watched her 18-year-old son, Henry, die in intensive care Monday.
Katie has faced the trauma with characteristic transparency – revealing what others might want to hide. Despite knowing the criticism she would face, she went public with the specifics during a month-long hospital vigil. How her son was addicted. How he went on a drug buy. How he was attacked with a tire iron. How he didn’t receive needed medical attention. How more drugs were given to him despite severe injuries to body and brain. How he rallied, then failed, in the hospital. How her mama hope failed to protect her boy.
Since her first post of “Please pray for my Henry,” I’ve been watching the story from the sidelines. Facebook. Blog posts. The New York Times article. Each day, I logged in, trying to find out how Henry was doing. I told my husband all about Henry. I told my friends. I kept talking about it, though everyone was a bit confused by my concern.
You see, I never met Henry. In fact, I have never met Katie face-to-face. I came to know her through an online support group she hosted called “writer mamas” years ago. I worked with her at Literary Mama. And, I’ve followed her writing ever since. No real world time. Nonetheless, knowing someone through online communities creates its own kind of intimacy. Its own kind of power. And now I can’t let it go.
I hurt to think of Henry, his body, his pain. I hurt to think of Katie, with her mother bear strength, watching her son die and being able to do nothing. I hurt to think of the judgment of the world on her son, on her. I just hurt.
And I completely understand her desire to make the story public. In some ancient communities, the family is asked to tell the story of the death to each and every person attending the funeral. By the last person, the story doesn’t hurt so much to tell. The old ones knew the importance of telling our stories, as whole and awful and bloody as they are. If I take it out of me and put it out there, it has less power over me. And Katie needs that now.
We need to listen. We need to be witnesses to this crime, this pain, this horror. For Katie. For Henry. For ourselves. We are part of a community, the Literary Mama community, and this is how a community honors its dead, and helps the living to continue on.
To show your support at the Facebook site set up to honor Henry, click here.