“Falling”—a longform essay—won the 2021 Iron Horse Literary Review Long Story Contest and was later released by IHLR released in a beautiful, illustrated, e-single that you can download for free here.
The essay’s core narrative chronicles our son Henry’s fall from a sugar maple, weaving in the stories of free-solo climber Alex Honnold and wire-walker Philippe Petit; through their feats of extreme daring, I think about how we navigate the scariest things and most profound losses—and continue to live, really live, with and despite and even because of our fear.
“The mothers I’ve known who’ve lost sons to any kind of fall will think about their lost sons every day for the rest of their own lives. I don’t know what those thoughts look like from inside their mournful brains. I pray I never have to know, and even having that thought feels like a failure of empathy, but I cannot stop the prayer—not that, please not that, not my son.”—from Falling
Adding to the fun, my friend Lauren Onkey—formerly both a VP at the Rock Hall and Director of Music at NPR—made a Spotify playlist to accompany the essay and it’s amazing. Join me and Lauren in considering all the ways there are to fall—and rise up—with Tom Petty (naturally), Patsy Cline, The Spinners, Chuck Berry, and many others: free fall, fall to pieces, fall in love, fall on me, and fall apart.