There were so many lovely, illustrated quotes from Maya Angelou floating around today (this one was yoinked from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls). Earlier this year, we lost Gabriel Garcia Marquez and now Angelou. There’s something about the moment of losing these two brilliant, expansive minds in such a short time that’s worrisome, unmooring. These are the people my generation have revered since our high school days, when we first started to identify ourselves by choosing the works of others that struck something inside. I remember swishing around the halls for a week after reading Phenomenal Woman for the first time, thinking that I was in on some kind of secret because I knew that the poem existed. That’s the thing. The work that these people did makes those who take it in better, richer people. I know it’s a little unfair to lump them together for the reason that they both happened to pass away this year, but they’re similar in the breadth and influence of their work. Not to overstate it too much, but they did the kind of work that changes minds, resonates through decisions made much later in life, and allows a deeper, more complex understanding of what life is. To say nothing about their passings would be to deny a great loss: two formidable agents of history and identity have moved into history itself, and we’ll never read new work of theirs again. (Of course, they both left a massive reading list for anyone who wants to go through the entirety of their words on paper, and even reading the same pieces at a different stage in life can be like reading for the first time.) It felt wrong to not address the profound sadness of losing these two icons in such short succession, even if all I have to offer to their memories is a short bummer of a blog post.