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Brooklyn born writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak has died. He was 83-years-old.
Sendak was the author of Bumble-Ardy, In The Night Kitchen, and, of course, Where The Wild Things Are.
We just went back and listened to Sendak’s interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air in September of 2011. It’s almost 20 minutes long, but we highly recommend you take the time to listen to it yourself. It’s an example of a master interviewer letting a master story teller reveal the important life lessons of love, loss, laughter and death.
Gross speaks to Sendak by phone from his home, when he is too weak to go to a studio. She speaks to him about his life as a gay man who never raised children, the death of his partner of 50 years, and the death of recent friends, including his publisher. Facing his own mortality himself, Sendak tells Gross, through tears:
“I have nothing but praise now, for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot, because I miss people. I cry a lot because they die, and I can’t stop them. They leave me. And I love them more…And it’s what I dread, more than anything, is the isolation….
Oh God, there are such beautiful things in the world, which I will have to leave when I die. But I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.
Sendak ends his interview expressing his deep appreciation for Gross and how she helps him to open up, telling her:
I’ll go before you go…so I won’t have to miss you. Doesn’t matter. I’m a happy old man, but I’ll cry my way all the way to the grave.