Anne de Graaf's blog: International-Intrigue-Injustice

24 July 2008

Patterns Restored by Dreams

Filed under: Words by Others,Write on — annedegraaf @ 2:29 pm

“Memory lived not in initial possession but in the freed hands, pardoned and freed, and in the heart that can empty but fill again, in the patterns restored by dreams.”—Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter, pg. 179

These words bring me comfort. And hope. I repeat them and something settles.

I know I’m not the only one out there struggling with the schizophrenic life of loss. We smile. We forget. Then we remember. We nod. We try to make others feel comfortable. We long to go back to sleep.

Fun things happen around us: children squealing on the beach, boating picnics, young couples’ tender touches, a dog lapping the surf. I smile. But inside I’m angry and tired. The tsunami of emotion reminds me of when I ran from such a wave after I came home from Zimbabwe. Why run? What if . . . it catches up with me? What if it drowns me? What if I simply stand as it breaks over me? And rest.

We expect the lost one to walk through the door, send an email, call. An open drawer, a photo, a fragment of last year’s conversation, and they are back. But no, they are gone. And the cycle of denial and anger rev up again. Acceptance hovers, ready to land, but the terrain is too rocky. Meanwhile, everyone around us is waiting. For what? For me?

My heart feels like it fell off a cliff but forgot to die. I’m limping around down there, looking up, wondering if anyone saw me. If help is coming. How much longer? Who listens? A voice calls out, “Don’t give in to self-pity.”

“I’m not!” I call back into the nothingness.

“Get your act together.”

“I’m trying!”

And I limp on.

Writing Tip #6–Write the Wrong
The absolute best writing comes from the heart. So tap into your own passion by remembering an incident that affected you deeply, then describe the details within the context of whatever you’re writing. For example, when your character is betrayed (and every good story must have betrayal), be brave enough to unlock the door to that dark memory and re-live the sights, smells, emotions and tastes of when it happened to you, as you describe the same for your character.

14 July 2008

She Taught Me Honesty

My friend of 16 years has died. And my brother died the same day. Neither of them died in pain. And her best friend died exactly six months earlier, at almost the same time of day. What’s with this timing? Both my brother and my friend died with their loved ones around them. I think this is important. Maybe the loved ones and the lack of pain are actually the most important of all.

I hear many things in the white noise around me: “Death is part of life.” “One day at a time.” “The pain softens with time.”

Is there such a thing as soft pain? What I see around me, what I feel around me is nothing but sharp pain. Pain in the eyes of my friend’s husband and teenagers. Pain in my daughter’s own eyes as she peeks at the scary place of motherless children. Pain in my eyes above the bags and shadows that trample my face.

And I am like some multiple-personality disordered woman with a zoo of voices grunting, shrieking and hooting. The elephant in the room trumpets, “What will happen if you lose even more loved ones?” as the Others all beg me to let them take over my heart and mind and soul:

  • The Injured Party—They limp around hissing, “Poor me, lost a friend, lost a brother, gave my heart away, poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!”
  • Boys in the Band—My subconscious creative crew, I give them assignments like “Help! Fix this chapter!” and they drum and jam all night while I sleep and in the morning hand me a few sheets of music that reveal my theme. Currently unemployed due to a labor dispute with the Injured Party.
  • Jesus—He holds a little solar-cell stone that you can only see in the dark. It beams my mantra, “I am safe, I am safe.” He doesn’t make much noise at all, really. He’s always there, and pretty much just waits. When I let go of my gaggle of fears though, I can feel tender touches: the comfort of writing, a summer breeze, seagulls wheeling high. And I hear more fragments: “Ruthless trust, trustless Ruth, restless Truth.”
  • Little Orphan Annie—She’s my artist child and the leader of the pack. Right now she’s crouched under the sink, crying her heart out. Someday soon she’ll feel the arms of comfort all of you have extended through emails and hugs and kind words and prayers and being there. Showing up. Then she will be. And do what she was born to do and rest and receive in that thin place where the lion of love lies down with the lamb of listening and a little child leads us all.

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