Tuesday, May 3, 2011
What I've Learned
Two weeks ago, I lost my grandmother to a long battle with Alzheimer’s. This week a devastating tornado ripped through the southeast and, thank God, all my family suffered was power outage for several days. Many people lost their homes, businesses and even their lives. Then Thursday, my son had a bike accident and had to receive five stitches right under his eye. The doctors were amazed he didn’t damage his sight. Excuse my language, but it’s been a brutal ass couple of weeks. I’ve experienced heartbreaking loss but celebrated life and miracles, too. And through it all, I’ve written.
In the days after my grandmother’s death, my mother said to me, I don’t see how you can write. I’ve thought about that and realize that I had no control over Mama’s passing, the storm or my son’s accident. The only thing I did have control of was the story in my head—its plot, direction and characters. And the emotions—grief, anger, fear, joy and anxiety—that are sometimes very hard for me to express verbally, I poured into the story. I didn’t have to be strong on paper. Or brave. Or hold back tears. Or be less whiney. Though the circumstances my characters experienced weren’t the same as my real life issues, the emotions were. And through them I could let it all out like I was opening a trench coat and emotionally flashing the world.
I honestly don’t know what Dr. Phil would say about that. Maybe that I’m a control freak. But one question he would most likely ask me is, how’s that working for you? I would have to respond that being able to write saves my sanity. God knows it’s hard work and is not always fun, but it is still a joy, if that makes any sense. It’s cathartic and healing. And while one of the most difficult things to write was my grandmother’s obituary—I still don’t think I did her justice by capturing her spirit and life in those few words—I thank God that He gave me a gift to write it.
Even through the changes the last two weeks have brought, I haven’t lost sight of the peace my grandmother now has. Or the power of love and kindness that has been exhibited in the storm’s aftermath. Or that my son walked away with stitches and scratches that will eventually heal and fade. I also realize that what some people see as stories of love and suspense are places of escape for not just the reader but the writer.
Posted by Naima Simone at 5:00 AM