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The Lives They Lived

Photo of Irena Sendler courtesy of Flickr user
guano, CC licensed

Every year I look forward to the last week in December when the New York Times Magazine puts out its annual “Lives They Lived” issue, an “unabashedly idiosyncratic collection” of essays celebrating lives that have ended in the past 12 months.

While it’s fascinating to learn more about those I know have passed, like George Carlin, Charlton Heston, and Steve Fossett, I get the most enjoyment from the pieces honoring the people I didn’t know were alive in the first place— the five-foot tall, young Catholic who smuggled Jewish babies out of the Warsaw Ghetto and carried them to freedom; the man who murdered his family to redeem them from his own sins and then disappeared—twice; the simple, untrained chef who had an almost supernatural talent for Southern cooking.

It’s difficult to imagine what motherhood would be like if it hadn’t been for one of the lives spotlighted, Edwina Froehlich. Froehlich spearheaded La Leche League, in a time when only one in five mothers were breastfeeding. Read her essay, and consider how different motherhood would be if it weren’t for her bringing breastfeeding from the fringe to front and center.

I could go on, but you should read these for yourself. At times, you'll think “why is this person in here?” but then you'll read the essay and realize that every life deserves of one these glorious places in the spotlight, and that these lives are as interesting and essay-worthy as the millions not mentioned.

Check them out:


Who would you choose to honor?