Wednesday, June 15, 2016

In my Hands

Yesterday I got to do something for the first time. I held a book that contained my writing. A few weeks ago I blogged about the book and I was excited and incredulous, grateful and humbled that it was going to happen. In the weeks following the news, I got busy and didn't think much about it. When the package arrived last night, the feelings all came back to me. My daughter opened it and I half expected to look through it and not see my name anywhere, let alone my words. I braced myself as she flipped page after page looking, and breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it. 

I held it together as she and I read my excerpt, and the pages surrounding it. However, that night, as I held the book in bed, in a quiet moment with no one around, it was a different story. 

Writing the original essay was not that difficult. The subject matter was intimately close and familiar. I can talk about Warren for hours, and write about him for days. On various occasions I have written out the details of the night he died, the moments before his final breath, what went down at the hospital, the last time I held him, how my daughter reacted when I told her he had died. I inked out details like the sounds and temperature of those moments, the loud silences and the overwhelming dread I felt as I waited for the doctor to tell me what my gut already knew. I have written Warren letters filled with ramblings of my frustrations and fears, catching him up on life since he left, asking for his advice. I have notebooks of poems that document the struggles of coping without him, and chronicling the things that I miss from our life together. Writing it out for myself is almost habitual. Seeing it in print for others to dissect and ingest is much more harrowing.

Dedicated to Warren - officially in print!
Reading my words in print made a greater impact than I expected. Even though they were my words, it was visceral. I felt as though the story came from someone else's pain, but I could relate to them in from a place of epic pain. My name was written beneath my words, but they were no longer just mine. I had set them free for others to relate to, and feel. They belonged to readers, not just me. My goal was to share about Warren, but also to help someone out there who feels alone in their grief, while my heart aches for the person who needs healing. I am still in the midst of that process and I do not wish the pain of soulmate loss on anyone. 

The happiness and excitement of being part of this publication were mixed with so many emotions. It's not how I wanted to be published for the first time, but it makes sense that it would happen in this way. It gives me hope that my other writing will become books one day that can be shared, while serving as a reminder that while I wish it were not so, widowhood is a part of my story I will never escape. I always knew that, but seeing it in my hands, in black and white really solidified it in a way that was more real than my thoughts, more real than hearing it. Perhaps the impact is because books are such an important part of who I am, and who I want to be. They have shaped me more than any other material thing. Having my most painful times immortalized in this form strikes at a part of me that I have never met, but I will have to get used to.

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