After a colleague’s death, casting off baggage

It is a rare day that you can start with writing that can only be described as courageous. Today is one of those days.

Twin Cities writer David Brauer has been processing his past since the death of New York Times columnist David Carr, with whom Brauer worked.

Writing in Minnesota Monthly, Brauer describes the scars that remain after our relationships move on. He called Carr a “personality tornado.”

Tornadoes move where they want, with little regard for what stands in their way. Over time, I was punctured by debris — a betrayal; bullying sensitive colleagues (even after he was sober); maltreating women, some referenced in his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun.

I had become the pinched one, unable to enjoy the elephant’s dance. David was generous to me in his book, acknowledging an incident I had actually forgiven him for. But as David’s fame grew, I became as addicted to my wounds as he had been to cocaine. Mine was one part righteousness—memorializing the unreconciled injuries of those left behind—and several parts jealousy, as my career went sideways while his rocketed up.

Brauer describes at least three stages of grief in his short essay, and reminds us — intentionally or not, perhaps — of the baggage we need to drop while we still can.