An interview with broadcaster, author and former Jesuit Priest, Neil McKenty about how his expectations about aging have matched up with his own experience of growing old. The interview was recorded during the summer of 2010, in Neil’s 85th year of life. He talks about his approach to his own death, his regrets, how sex evolves with age, the evolution of his beliefs about the afterlife, and what he fears most about aging. Neil was an inspiration for the creation of Safe Space, and a consultant to the show since its inception in 2008. We were honored to have his guidance all these years, and his ongoing encouragement to “keep it real.” The show is aired as a tribute to Neil who died on May 12, 2012.
An interview with clinical social worker and birth mother, Marilyn Bronzi about giving up her child for adoption. Marilyn describes the sense of secrecy and shame that surrounded out of wedlock pregnancy in 1966. “It was like having a relative in jail.” She describes her process of making the decision and making peace with it in different ways over the years. Marilyn describes not talking to anyone about the loss for 23 years for fear of judgment. She also describes the experience of reunification with her daughter Lisa, and the ways that she and Lisa’s family have been able to come together. Marilyn affirms that giving up her child was an expression of loving her child, and wanting her to have the best life she could have.
An interview with poet and writer, Catharine Murray about grieving and poetry. In 2004, Catharine’s son Chan died of leukemia despite months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Catharine has been writing poems about her grief since the week after he died. She talks about how her poems help her slow down and listen to the pain inside. They also provide a little space between her deep grief and the mundane act of typing on the keyboard. Catharine reads three of her poems that speak to her sense of loss, capturing the way that he is “still as close as our hearts can bear to hold him.”
An interview with Professor Lawrence L Langer about his book, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. Professor Langer describes his own difficulty trying to imagine what it must have been like stand in a gas chamber facing death. He developed courses on the literature of atrocity to try and help people find a way to imagine this experience. He describes stories that survivors have told him, stories of such horror that the teller literally became speechless in trying to communicate. He states the importance for listeners in not judging survivors for what they had to do and not do, in situations of “choiceless choice.” One of the many ways that survivors suffer, is their own internal judgment for ways they were unable to protect and save their own loved ones. He tells of the challenges survivors face in trying to communicate their experiences in ways the listener can bear, will not be damaged by, and can begin to understand.
An interview with storyteller, Laura Simms about the power of stories to remind us of what is good inside us. Laura describes the way that stories take the listener on a unique journey where each character is a part of us, and we live through the story as if our lives depended on it. Laura talks about her work as a narrative therapist in Haiti after the earthquake. She uses stories to remind people of experiences of joy, and also to remember shared stories that nourish their communities and traditions. Finally Laura describes ways to help individuals transform painful memories into stories without agenda.