EIGHT WEEKS TODAY
My writings over the years have been snapshots and portraits of my life. Unlike a photograph that captures an image, usually the one we want the world to see when we stare at the camera and “smile” because someone on the other end tells us to, writings capture the real story. Before laptops and computers as my primary writing tool, I would write in a large unlined wire bound journal in pens, sharpies or as of late, pencils depending on my mood at the time. I still write in these journals on occasion like when I am at the beach for example, but more and more find myself writing on my laptop. The computer is more convenient and I enjoy the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard; it encourages my creativity, and it also makes me feel more like a “real” writer, whatever that means.
The other times I have used the wire bound journals is when I have taken writing classes. One of my favorite pieces I handwrote in 2005 was a piece I wrote at a local writing class by Hannah Goodman. It was a full blown catharsis to write a piece about my first grade teacher, Miss Foley. I realized after writing that piece how much her mean style of teaching my little self boxed in my creative writing spirit. Like an art teacher forcing students to color within the lines, a teacher who is primarily focused on obsessive grammar and spelling perfection instills a chastity belt on the spirit.
I love grammar and good spelling and I learned that in old style closed classroom teaching at Tansey School in Fall River, Mass. But Miss Foley taught with an old school fear based style that terrified me and put a huge damper on my creative writing as I moved into my teenage and young adult years. The piece I wrote about my scary memories of Miss Foley ripped off my cape and let me scream my words that had been stuck way down deep for many years. Pandora’s box was opened wide and I haven’t stopped writing since.
As I went looking for this piece because I wanted to transfer its hand written words into my laptop I came across the collection of writings. They were from the time I found out about my brother’s cancer to the day of his death. There it was, my familiar journal scribble,
“Nov. 20 — 1995
Michael passed away today.”
Handwritten, spotty from my tears that fell on the paper as I poured my weeping heart out in my familiar friend. I am including this piece today because writing captures the heart like nothing can. It is a timestamp on life coming at you. Better than photos because the story is not behind the smile and the picture of the person is not up for guessing when there is no name written on the back. Writing is the raw story behind the façade we show off in our pearly whites in all those photos trapped in our computer.
My writings have happily encouraged conversation with many people. “I am not a writer,” is one I hear most often. “I have a lot to say, but don’t know where to start.” I heard the other day from one of my favorite clients, “I don’t know if there is an audience.” What I know is that writing for me is my own audience. It has only been recent that I have published my writings and cancer was the catalyst. It was like I needed an excuse to let it out of my storage box. This is when I really appreciate social media as a vehicle for this self expression. Cancer also gave me permission to release the fear of writing so vulnerably. What the fuck, we live shortly, the older I get the more I want to know the deep truths of my friends and peers. The superficial bullshit is not interesting to me. I want to know the whys of our superficial bullshit. How did we get to the bullshit and why do we cling on to it as our protective shield. What are we so fucking afraid of in sharing our core underbellies? Writing my guts out has brought me closer to my desire for chick truth, for human truth. “The truth shall set us free.” Writing is freedom for me and I am so encouraged by the positive responses I have received from friends and total strangers.
I hope whoever my be reading this today will be encouraged by the purest rawest emotion of this piece I had handwritten almost 22 years ago at such a young age of thirty. Losing my only sibling to cancer was startling and writing was my drug of choice to handhold me through the grief. Ironic that cancer back then that took my beautiful brother’s life has been the start of the floodgates opening and no sign of a dry spell. This is one of the many pieces I wrote during and after his illness. More to follow.
Michael passed away today between 6:30am & 7:15am- I can not use the word died because that mean his soul too and I know that is not true- Today has been an interesting day full of emotion, phone calls, denial, finality, reality, closure-I keep thinking waiting for Michael to appear somehow- Today Delessio came over and we went for a drive in the van- we parked for a second at Colt State Park & in front of us a lone seagull- majestically staring at us head on about 150 feet in front of us- the first thought that came to me was –there’s Michael saying hello.
I just got a sharp pain in my left pinky, never having that pain before, I thought, there’s Michael giving me a little jolt just to keep me in check.-
The finality of it all, realizing I no longer have a brother as I have known him, I can’t believe it. All this preparation and I’m having phases of denial-life is so interesting-I am writing so messy, but it feels so good to be so lazy. Strange that I got to the end of this journal and Michael passes on- I think I will continue until at least after the services for him-Mom’s Dec 3-Mine Dec 10.
Tomorrow Esme & Melly are coming over so I will drag them all to the obituary drop offs- I want to organize my photos & letters in some type of order-
I will write more later- I have many thoughts on my mother & father, but I am too lazy to write.”