Oh, the Drama!

Years ago, a small boy in a small town dropped to his knees at my feet, lifted his hands to the sky and yelled at the top of his lungs, ‘I’m going to DIE!!!!’.

It was Halloween. It was snowing. His mittens were at home and his hands were cold.

And then my son said ‘B… gives full size candy bars!’ and they were both off and running, immanent drama forgotten. Until they came back and this little boy dropped to his knees again.

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I believe that person still gives out full size candy bars. (Name withheld to protect his candy stash) And note this town is small enough that it doesn’t have city limits. Just one limit.

He had my full understanding and complete sympathy with the drama.

Years ago when my parents married, our new family needed a bigger house. In the process I realized I was going to be irrevocably torn from my boyfriend.

I was nine. He was my boyfriend because he always tried to catch just me when we played horses. You know, in the playground at school, where girls are the horses and boys are the horse thieves. And here I was being forced to move.

I knew I’d never, ever be happy again. How, you might ask, can I remember back that far? Because I wrote in my little diary ‘I’ll NEVER EVER BE HAPPY AGAIN!’

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Yeah…I’m also not gifted with being able to read the future.

Yes, I wrote it in all caps. I meant it. So much, that when we moved I took my favorite pajamas and hid them behind the bedroom door. I planned to sob uncontrollably in the new house, knowing my parents would move us back. Those pj’s are probably still behind that door.

So yes, I understood the drama. Have I outgrown it?

Of course not. What self-respecting writer doesn’t live in drama? How else can we give it to our characters?

A couple days ago I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged with the editing process of the current work in progress. At that point it was the worst thing ever written, etc., etc., etc. So did I get to work editing?

No. Instead I told my husband I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt joy.

And sniffled.

And thought, I should write a blog post about joy. Not happiness, but true, deep, joy that makes you feel almost incandescent. I’d been thinking about the difference between happiness and joy after I heard a speaker ask if what gave us joy aligned with what we did. I thought I could write about how joy has been missing for a long time.

Or so it felt at that moment.

My husband knows me very well. Instead of laughing, he said all the wonderful supportive things that needed to be heard.

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My men know how to find joy, especially in Vegas.

This morning I drove to work very slowly. Luckily I was the only car on the highway. The music was blasting, it was just beginning to get light so the snow was glowing, and…guess what? I looked at the high mountains and the trees and thought, there’s a little incandescence glowing inside at all that beauty. I kind of think my inner joy was laughing at me.

So instead of writing a blog about joy, I decided I better write about the little dramatic child who occasionally drops to her knees and raises her hands to the sky.

She’s alive and doing well.

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My husband’s view at work. His place of happiness.

What Do You Do?

I spent last week at a training. I was early to a session so sat with my crochet basket watching people (developing characters, of course). An older man introduced himself, shook my hand, asked me what I did. Understandable in a work environment.

He was the keynote speaker. And he talked for a couple hours about leadership, about how to change energy at work, about how we focus on what we do rather than who we are and what our stories are. Once he mentioned stories I started paying attention.

Afterwards, I pointed out that his speech had been about who people are and asked him why, then, when he’d introduced himself to me, the first thing he asked me was what I do.

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I’m a mother

Granted, as I told him, if some stranger had asked me ‘who are you’ or asked me to tell them a story about myself, a big defensive wall would have immediately come up. Because it’s not normal in society to ask who we are. It is normal to ask what we do, and to judge and label and assume based on what that label is. On what we do.

Which really, has nothing to do with who we are.

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I’m a wife

He told me I was observant (of course, that’s what storytellers do, and it was smart of him to compliment his audience), and said I was right about how people would react.

If stranger said, ‘tell me about yourself, tell me about who you are, tell me a story about you,’ how would you react? What would you tell them? Would you be able to answer immediately or would you have to pause and think? Not only because it wouldn’t be something you expected, but because maybe you also label yourself by what you do.

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I’m a friend (who makes friends work)

Honestly, it’s also about words. If a stranger said to me ‘tell me about yourself’ I might feel my personal space encroached upon (in spite of this public blog, I am a private person). But I wouldn’t feel as defensive as if the stranger said to me ‘who are you?’.

But the two questions ask the same thing, don’t they?

He also asked us during the session to tell the person seated next to us what gave us joy, and to think about if the thing that gave us joy, that was our passion, aligned with what we did.

Does it?

Tell me a story about who you are.

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And I’m so much more

From a Mother

There has been such an overwhelming response to my earlier post about grieving, and so many kind comments. Buried in those comments are the words of a grieving mother. Rather than leaving her there, unseen, I wanted to share with all of you what I hope others need to hear. Please pause for a moment and listen to my dearest friend and Sam’s mother.

‘For the past month I have been feeling the anxiety building as the first anniversary of Sam’s death approaches. I cry more easily. I imagine his death with a depth that makes me uncomfortable. I find that all of the ways I have carefully kept myself insulated from the deepest pain associated with his death are less effective now, this too seems part of the process of accepting that he is well and truly gone from the world.

His spirit has been a strongly motivating force this past year. I have pondered my reason for being, made drastic life changes (one of those things that you’re not supposed to do, sorry but it’s been really good for me, I am financially poorer but richer in all other ways) and am trying hard to leave some good in my neck of the world.

I have also been making some art, which is far more therapeutic than I ever knew. I’m carving lino blocks for printmaking, most recently one with his kayak, one that says ‘for Sam’ which I will put under the other blocks I have made that say ‘shine’ and ‘love’.

I made some prayer flags and will block print them and those who attend the one year anniversary get together can write messages and then the flags will hang around his kayak. His dad and I have plans to go to the rapids where he died and hang some there as well. It’s a difficult place to get to, by land, by water and also emotionally.

I thank you so much Lisa for continuing the conversation about the grief associated with his death. For saying his name, for not letting this whole thing slip into the past. My biggest fear is the erasure of time and as long as I live I have to keep him here close by.’

As she says here, we say his name lest we forget. We say his name in order to allow others to grieve with us. For all of those grieving, never be afraid to speak their names, or to speak up about what you need as you grieve. There are many on that path with you who will understand.