BOSTON – "We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."
This quote is one of the infinite examples of how indelible Toni Morrison's writing always was throughout her long and storied life.
It is also the quote that was shared by Alfred A. Knopf, the publishing organization, yesterday morning when they released a statement that Morrison, at the age of 88, had passed away after complications from a short bout with pneumonia at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx in New York.
Morrison was said to have been surrounded by loved ones at the time of her death and her family released this statement about her passing: "She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life."
Part of this well lived life is the literary contributions made by Morrison. Her works centered on the lives of black people in America, and the two I read during my academic studies, Jazz and Sula, were a window into that world. Her most notable work, however, is definitely Beloved, from 1987. For this book, Morrison won the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Morrison may not have had the strongest connection to Boston, but she was a towering literary figure who had a strong connection to the entire world. This week, we'll hear reflections on her impact, both in social issues and on the literary community. An enormous loss for anyone who loved to think more deeply about human relationships.
She was like the Oracle in some ways; seemed like she would live forever. Through her literature and her mastery of language, she always will.
Image via Flickr / Cliff