Two years ago, our 18-year old granddaughter died in a one-car accident. At the time, I was blogging regularly about chronic pain, health, and wellness. I had self-published a book, Kick Pain in the Kitchen, some months before. And then my creative juices died along with Stasja. Nothing flowed from the keyboard in my office. I couldn’t think clearly, much less wrote a compelling sentence on any topic.
I kept a list of all the things I could remember about our time with her, from the smallest moments to the biggest events. I wrote a poem about mourning her. But I couldn’t turn back to the topics I’d previously pursued with such fervor. I’ve always believed that I don’t push towards my passions, but that they pull me towards them. I felt no pull to my old blog, and it went dormant, where it remains today.
But once I could concentrate again somewhat, I did what I always do. I started to read once more. And somehow I could continue to write short reviews on Goodreads. As time progressed, and the devastation lessened in hundredths of a degree, my reviews grew in length. My reading continued and I was finding joy in studying topics about which I had never read.
I joined a community of people who love to read, in an app called Litsy. I started taking about my love for books with other people who felt the same way. We jointly shared our joys, sorrows, and what books inspired and aggravated us. Again, my book reviews became longer, more precise, and more considered.
At a time when other social media was becoming more contentious than ever, my community of bookish friends became a lifeline. I began to think about starting this blog, my sixth one since 1996. Blogging about books – mostly reviewing them – has become an important part in my journey back to writing.
As I’ve been writing this post, I happened to start Ray Bradbury’s short book, Zen and the Art of Writing. This quote bowled me over and, I think, explained why my grief didn’t allow me to write.
“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”
Writing is about life. Putting a sentence in paper says, “I am here. I am creating and leaving something for you to read when I’m gone.” Writing examines life, celebrates it, and measures the speed and light inside our life. With a devastating death to grieve, my writing light went out. I’m not grieving my darling Stasja any less, but I’ve found that light didn’t go out. It went dim, and now it’s growing again.
p.s. The picture above is Stasja, along with her signature newly tattooed on our arms. In addition to my husband and I, many people in our family have done this. The tribute feels fitting.