“To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient; We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom” – Oliver Sacks
I awoke late as I do most Sundays. My grandson wanted Belgian waffles, chocolate chip, no less. So, in complete sleepy ignorance that the world had tilted in a sad direction, I went into the kitchen and cooked. It wasn’t until after we’d eaten that I reached for my laptop and saw that Oliver Sacks had died.
It punched me in the gut.
There are authors I feel I know because their writing is so enticing, so deeply felt and so personal. I have every book Oliver Sack has written (some are on loan), I read his every article in The New Yorker or The Atlantic. I was entranced by his writing long before the movie Awakenings. His writing was intelligent, humorous, witty and brilliant. The fact that he could write about science and the brain in such a way that it grabbed the heart of me, a woman who was not a fan of nonfiction, but rather poetry and novels boggled my mind.
Oliver Sacks opened my heart to science. He opened my mind to nonfiction. His writing pulled my head out of novels and set me down another path – one of science and the brain. How many writers can do that? Only the great ones.
Oliver Sacks wrote with such poignant honesty about his life. I felt I knew him. I could feel the gentleness of his soul, the deep and abiding kindness. In the news lately, there has been so much rancor. Hate-filled words against a people, talk of “rounding up,” building walls to keep people out, tracking people like FedEx packages and more only make me mourn Oliver Sacks more. I will miss his writing, I will miss his opinions, I will miss him being in the world, making it a better place. Today, we lost a giant and I feel I’ve lost a dear friend. Though we never met, I am broken-hearted.
Below is a list of his writings, various obituaries and other links related to the great Oliver Sacks. It is my hope that if you don’t know of him or haven’t read his work, that you will be curious and read. Take a little of his star shine that infuses his writing and hold it close. We face an uncertain future: a little brilliance, kindness and wit is needed. Most of all we will need just a touch of his uncommon bravery, grace and humanity.
Thank you, Dr. Sacks, may you rest in peace.