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“Nothing new can happen between my son and me. And while I have taught the parable of the prodigal son many times, these days I feel not just why, when the lost is found, there is great cause for celebration, but how truly the zest goes out of life with such a loss. There is no word for the pairings of emotions one feels in grief—the enormity of love mixed with the enormity of sorrow.”

Those words come from Robert Cording in an essay he published in the Image journal with the title, “In the Unwalled City.” In this remarkable essay, he puts into words what cannot be contained in words: his grief for the death of his son Daniel, his desire to keep communion alive with his son, and his duty of remembrance that raises his son to life in his own life. I reached out to Professor Cording after reading his essay and he graciously agreed to join me here on our show today.

If you’ve been listening to recent episodes of our show, you know that I am working on a project between my own McGrath Institute for Church Life and Ave Maria Press about our relationship with our beloved dead. This is part of a book I am writing on this topic. As part of the project, I’ve been talking with people about their memories of and their hopes for their beloved dead. I’ve asked a few of those people if they would be willing to record an episode for our show so you can listen in, too. This is the third of these episodes––on the previous two I hosted Laura Kelly Fanucci and Stephanie DePrez.

My guest today––Robert Cording––is professor emeritus at College of the Holy Cross. His most recent poetry collection is Without My Asking (CavanKerry). You can find some of his other recent work in the Georgia Review, New Ohio Review, Hudson Review, and The Common.