Warning: this is a no-edit zone…
On the morning of the 18th, I was already sad. It was the 8th anniversary of my mother’s death. Those of you who’ve been with me for a while, know that we were very close. She lived with me, and our roles had reversed. There are no words to describe losing a mother or a child.
So I awakened sad, full of bittersweet memories and tender ones. Memories that tugged tears and wistful smiles. Then I received an email from a fellow writer that her husband had died that morning. He’s been sick for a year, and during that time, she’s been a rock. A grieving rock, but a rock. I think under those circumstances that’s as good as it gets.
So a sad day became doubly so, and I grieved with and for her. The loss of a spouse is horrific. I’ve seen it too often to deny it or to try to put a positive spin on it. There isn’t one. When a loved one is in pain, the cesation of pain is a good thing, but the loss of physical presence to the one left behind is not good. It is one of those things that must be endured and accepted.
I waited a day to phone, she lives a long way away. And I was so relieved to hear her say that she’d taken her first deep breath in a year. For the first time in all that time, she felt peace.
Now that might seem strange to those who haven’t experienced the loss of someone beloved after a lengthy illness. But it sounds so very familiar to one who has had that experience. You’re so fearful that something will happen or be done that brings more pain that you can’t breathe deep or relax. You feel you must always watch, question and protect. A year is a long time to be ever viligent. A week is a long time to be on high-alert. You don’t sleep, you don’t eat, you feel uneasy at being off-watch long enough to take a shower. It’s not an easy place, or an easy time.
During our conversation, she said she had a wonderful support system helping her through this: her critique group. And I was reminded yet again how fortunate we writers are because we can rely on each other to be there during tough times.
I think back over the past decade, at all the tough times in my life, and the writers who have been there with me, trudging through them. I think back at all the tough times in my writer friends’ lives and the writers who have been there for them with me, trudging through them.
I told my darling husband, Lloyd H., about her loss. He knew her darling husband had been sick, of course. I’d been sharing updates on his condition and hers and I got them. But he looked at me with sadness in his eyes and said, how do you stand it? You know so many people who have so many losses.
That set me back on my heels. I thought about it, and I suppose from the outside that is how it looks to others. But the truth is, writers in my arena are a close-knit, large group. We don’t do lip service, we care. And when you care, yes, I suppose you do hurt more often, but you also laugh more often. Rather than just experiencing life through your own eyes, you experience a lot of life through their eyes. That’s a privilege. One that brings sadness at times, but also joy.
Writers, and those professionally close to them, are a different breed. Maybe opening those veins in writing makes us more emotionally accessible or just willing to care deeply when it’d be safer to not. I don’t know. It doesn’t much matter in the big picture of things. What does matter is that a friend is hurting and her writer friends are there for her.
It all does make one think. About the fragility of life, yes. But also about the abundance of little recognized blessings in being a writer.