Over the summer I went to visit the final resting place of novelist, Nella Larsen. She's buried at Cypress Hill Cemetery, which is not more than seven minutes away from me. Some years back I read the biography, In Search of Nella Larsen, written by Professor George Hutchinson and was surprised to learn that the funeral parlor that handled Nella's funeral was located just a few blocks away from me and still in business.
For some reason Nella had been heavy on my mind and I found myself consumed with an urgent need to visit her but I couldnt remember the name of the cemetery and I couldn't locate Hutchinson's book in my vast library (ok not vast...but sorta kinda) and so I started to surf the net in search of the information and that's when I stumbled upon the cyber-home of Heidi Durrow.
Apparently Heidi and Nella Larsen have quite a bit in common; they're both bi-racial (Black and Danish) female writers. Heidi was recently awarded the Bellwether Prize for Fiction for her novel: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky which Publisher's Weekly dubbed one of the ten top debut's of the season. Heidi feels that Nella is her muse. Not a bad muse to have, huh? (smile)
But as wonderful as all of those accolades are - I was most impressed by her generous and caring spirit.
And why is that, you ask?
Well she placed a headstone on Nella Larsen's previously unmarked grave.
Isn't that awesome?
Nella's grave is perched on top of a small hill and shaded by a young oak tree. It's a pleasant, peaceful resting place.
I cleaned off the tombstone,s at down beside her and began thanking her for being selfless enough to share her gift with the world and in doing so paving the way for generations of writers of color. I offered my condolensences for a career that cut short by an accusation that broke her heart , silencing one of the great american writers of our time.
I thanked her for the story (Glorious) that she and Zora Neale Hurston saw fit to bring me ( I ain't crazy ya'll) and then I set my gift (seashells) down on her headstone and wished her so long, until next time we meet...
Causes Bernice McFadden Supports
Hurston Wright Foundation
Girls Write Now
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)