Thoughts on this week and the loss of Anthony Bourdain

Can we agree that this week has been the worst?

Like, how about we press the big reset button and go back for a do-over.

News events aside, the last two days have been a struggle around our house.

It all started a week or so ago I was a big old dumb dumb and made the rookie move of letting Bobby lay on the floor in a children’s play space at our local Science Museum. In this play space were various baby toys, which Bobby promptly grabbed and shoved in his mouth.

Cue 3 days later and he came down with what I’m assuming is some kind of adenovirus. He a puny couple of days (falling asleep on me while I held him, which even as I savored the cuddles of it all, he never does anymore), then developed respiratory and GI symptoms.

Cue 5 days later and it was Ryland’s turn. And it hit her HARD.


See what I mean? Like Gary Busey after a bender hard. Yesterday, this child did not get out of bed until her dada got home at 6pm. She’s never spent an entire day in bed. She’s 2. She usually quite literally bounces off our walls from morning to night. When I got her out of her crib she was just a pitiful mess of a human, covered in puke, febrile, weak and shaky. So she spent the rest of the day in our bed watching movies or most pathetically of all, just collapsing in a heap and staring blankly into the middle distance for long stretches of time.


Before Bobby, I could manage days like these pretty well. I hated seeing her sick and wanted nothing more than to make her feel better, but I also could cuddle and hold her all day and secretly enjoy the snuggles. But add a 7-month-old to the equation, especially a teething, needier than normal 7-month-old, and it gets a little more complicated. Every time I had to get Bobby a bottle or change him or do anything with him, Ryland would start weeping, reach her arms to me and in a thin, sad little voice cry out “mama mama mama.” Like a knife to the heart.

However, we got through it. She finally ate a popsicle once her dad was home and perked up a teeny bit. And then she slept in bed with me, which hasn’t happened since our trip to the beach last summer (when she was also sick and we were desperate). While I did love the chance to snuggle her all night and keep her close while she felt so awful, it was…less than restful. I swear she woke up and changed positions about 5-7x per hour. I got elbowed in the face, kneed in the boob.

She bolted upright out of bed at 5:30 and seemed much spunkier and alert than the previous day. And we had like a solid hour or so (or about the length of a viewing of Minions) of relative contentment.

And then Ryland seemed to remember that she didn’t feel well, and boy was she PISSED about it.

Like scorched earth, rain hellfire down on her enemies, burn our house to the ground pissed. And since then she has pretty much alternated between all too brief moments of “playing” or watching a show/movie and total fury and rage.

Currently, she is in her crib screeching like a hyena. Yes, I am a monster. But when you have a child who reaches a point of batshit, feral crazy, and that child slept only in 15-minute increments the night before, and also won’t cuddle or watch a movie because she is so totally exhausted and in a rage blackout, and you haven’t had a literal moment to yourself in 36 hours (including showering and going to the bathroom) you put that child in the crib and let her GD cry.

Sorry for the rant. Like I said, the last 2 days have been a doozy. Especially because my original plan for this week included two scheduled babysitting sessions for me to go grocery shopping (I was all excited about starting a new grocery budget this week, nixing the online shopping because it’s pricier, limiting takeout, yeah that’s out the window) and get some writing done (I have a boatload of freelance work due, and my OCD, perfectionist self cannot truly relax until it’s done and submitted).

So there’s all that, which, let’s be honest, is pretty trivial and small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

And then there’s the news that walloped me in the gut this morning, about Anthony Bourdain committing suicide.

I obviously did not know the man. I have no personal stake in his life. But I feel like I’m probably not alone when I say that I can’t stop crying over this.

I feel gutted. And then wrong for feeling gutted, and then confused about what right I have to be sad about this public figure’s personal tragedy.

Obviously, his family, friends, and loved ones, especially his poor daughter, are the ones whose lives have been turned upside down. I cannot fathom their pain or grief. It’s such a waste, such a tragedy, on every level.

But reading through online comments and posts, it seems there are a lot of us, regular people with no claim to the man other than having been his fans, whether through his books or TV shows, who are heartbroken today.

I think part of it is, as I read somewhere else, it feels preposterous that a man who lived so fully could be dead. It just seems hard to accept that he’s not on this planet, because he was so larger than life, such a presence.

Part of it is that he wasn’t an actor or singer. There was no persona, no stage. It was just him, and he was honest, and so we feel like we knew him in a way we rarely do with public figures.

But I think the larger part is that we, the people who watched his shows, who admired him, feel like we traveled the world with him. It’s corny and a little trite, but it’s also I think kind of true. Whether you’ve visited exotic destinations on a regular basis or have never left your hometown, Anthony Bourdain took all of us with him. He showed us the world, but not the flat, bland, two-dimensional world of most travel shows.

He found a way to make it real, to infuse color and sound and smell and taste into a TV show, to make all of these places come to life, to make that steaming bowl of pho or hunk of stinky cheese or perfectly runny egg jump out of the screen, to the point where as a view you could swear you tasted it. He didn’t make anything easy or pretty or nice. His show wasn’t a brochure. You saw dirt and wear and cracks. But, because of that, he made all of these places human and alive. He didn’t shy away from the pain or the humanity, the wounds or battle scars, and in doing so he presented these countries or cities or remote landscapes as breathtakingly whole.

He expanded the boundaries of our world, but he also made its contents more intimate, less foreign or strange or scary. He showed us that the guy on the dusty train in Madagascar wants the same things as the woman behind the street stall in Myanmar, or the restaurant owner in Montana. And God that’s valuable. I’m not sure people realize just how valuable that connection is. To know that the person on the other side of the world is just like you, down to the very core. That’s the kind of knowledge that cuts through apathy or ignorance, makes us care about our fellow humans, more willing and open to communication and understanding and peace.

I am so unbelievably sad for the man, that he was obviously in so much pain, the kind of pain most of us luckily never experience. I so wish he had found a way to stay here, not for us fans,  but for the people who loved and knew him, for his daughter most of all.

The only solace or comfort I can see from this whole terrible situation is the appreciation for the life this man lived. He crammed more life into 61 years than most people would do if they had 200 years, or 500. He saw more of this planet than probably almost anyone, and he took us with him. That’s an incredible gift, and we shouldn’t take it lightly.

So as a fan, as someone who loved his shows and books, who welcomed him into my home, who laughed and cried as he showed us the immeasurable scale and splendor and improbable, relentless, aching beauty of this big, strange world, all I can say is thank you.

And for anyone who is suffering the way he suffered, who feels lost or hopeless or overwhelmed by it all, I just hope you know how desperately wanted and needed you are on this planet. Please stay here, for the people who love you, for the people you haven’t met. Every single one of us has value and purpose and a reason to stay here, to cling to this life and this world, to find a way back to hope again.

If Anthony Bourdain were alive today, something tells me he would lean back, crack a wry smile, and nod at the massive outpouring of grief and love. And maybe, knowing all of that, all of the things no one told him while he was here because they were so sure they’d have days and weeks and years longer to say it, he’d decide to stay. Maybe he’d book that next trip. Jump on a train. Crack open his worn and heavily stamped passport. Show us the world for a little while longer.

 “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

-Anthony Bourdain



  1. Nina | 9th Jun 18

    Could Ryland possibly be getting in her 2-year molars? My little is three months younger and was fevery and only wanted to be held a couple days this week. He’s a lot better now but still catapulting between super happy boy and he-remembered-he’s-two-and-crankbutt.

    • Liz | 9th Jun 18

      Nina, those molars can definitely make kiddos look and act miserable. Ryland already got her back ones (thank goodness that’s over) so this is definitely a virus of some kind I’m glad your little one is doing better after his bout with teething, it’s the worst!

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