The written word. It has meant so much in my life. Appreciating the words of others written in books, articles, poems and letters has helped me pass many contented and inspired hours.
My own written words, though, have held the most transformative power. Writing first saved my life, then it helped me find my life, and now it helps me more fully live my life. It has brought light to darkness, paved new paths, brought clarity and direction. It has multiplied joy and divided pain.
Some of the writing I do is meant to be expelled from my head and heart and that is that. Other writing is meant to be shared with others-whether just one person, or all the way to a public blog post for anyone to read.
And some sits quietly buried on a page in a long-filled journal until something compels me to return to that time and those words. I am forever grateful that I have always dated journal entries and poems. The older I get, I appreciate it even more.
In recent years, I have made an effort to write down memories and information my mom has been talking about. It is important to not lose stories and details.
Like this, jotted down by me in recent years, from my mom talking about growing up in the 1930’s and 40’s:
“Calmar had three grocery stores at one time, and mom’s family went to the one run by Sonny M. She said that there were two passenger trains that went through Calmar at that time too. You could take them all the way to Chicago. And up to 14 trains went through Calmar on a typical day.”
The same holds true for my own memories. Details and stories begin to blur as I age. It makes sense that with more memories, more years lived, it would leave us struggling to keep it all straight. So I looked back through some of my own writing and gleaned these:
This from July 6,1977 in my first diary:
“Today is my birthday. I got a scrapbook, socks, and an ELO record ‘Telephone Line’ from mom and dad (that record was a green 45). From Aileen I got peach bath oil, 10 packs of gum and some popcorn stuff. I am 12 and getting big. A big preteen, wow!”
This from 12/25/97 early in my new relationship with Darcy:
“He invited me to his daughter Emily’s third birthday party. I will meet his kids for the first time, his mom, his sister and some of his friends. He was a real trooper meeting my friends last weekend and they all liked him. He’s considerate, punctual, reliable, romantic–I really like him.”
This from 10/30/98, a week to the day after my dad died of a heart attack on a Friday morning:
“It was tough this morning. I was thinking a lot about one week ago–Dad woke up and maybe everything seemed fine. I wonder if he felt something coming on, if he had a moment where he knew what was happening??”
This from Wed., July 24, 2002. Sam was 6 months old:
“You are really on the go now, you roll over easily and you try to push up on all fours. You scooch around in a circle pretty quickly too. You’ll be creeping/crawling soon.”
Or this from July 6, 2008…my 43rd birthday and weeks out from my BC diagnosis, but still prior to my first surgery on July 17:
“But the topper is that it really sucks to have this first birthday since my cancer diagnosis. Puts a different spin on recent years when I celebrated my physical health and a better self-image. Snap out of it! There’s still plenty to celebrate.”
Milestones and ordinary days recorded, pen to paper, and preserved. Now they serve as treasures. Treasures that can be used for fact checking, and also for tapping emotional energy anew. What I felt as I first wrote the words, and what I feel as I read them again, weaves my life together in stronger threads. Threads of gratefulness.