As I've mentioned previously, I've been thinking about my writing and this blog and my journal and my journey, and I had a bit of a revelation that's helped me to make a decision.
Last week I finished reading one of the several books I had on the go: The Alchemy of Loss. (It was on my Christmas list but didn't make it under the tree, I guess Santa thought it was a bit grim!) Now before you get all worried because you think I'm reading too many 'widow' books, read on...
This remarkable book was written by a young Canadian woman, Abigail Carter, whose husband Arron died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She wrote her story as a way to recover, a way through the fog of her widowhood, a remembrance for her young children who will have very faint memories of their father by the time they're old enough to understand what their mother struggled through… As she wryly notes, she wrote the book that she had hoped to find when she was struggling through the early years of her loss.
What especially struck me about Abigail’s story was the raw honesty of her writing. She talks candidly about her ever-changing roller coaster of emotions, ranging from crushing love to raging frustration with her children; gratefulness and anger at her parents; disappointment and eagerness in her eventual albeit tentative re-entry into the dating world; disillusionment and gratitude with her husband’s company legal representative; and so on across the cast of many people who helped her along her journey.
I couldn’t help but wonder what they all thought when reading passages about themselves in this book. Whether Abigail told all these people what she had written or gave them a preview before the book was published is unknown; she does thank many of them in her introduction. But I was impressed by her unflinching honesty. She told her own story – in all its pain and rage and love and helplessness and appreciation and humour and oddness. It was her way forward and she knew that the people who meant most to her would stick by her, for better or for worse.
When I began this blog, I thought it would be a communal place where Chris’ loved ones could bring their stories and we could share our memories and our sadness. But in the end that wasn't really what it was about… it was about me and my journey. Because I knew that many of Chris’ friends and family were reading this blog, I kept many things to myself (or to my counsellor!). But in recent months, I’ve found myself feeling constrained in my writing by the knowledge of who many of my readers are. I didn’t want to upset people or worry them but I’ve grown frustrated by that self-imposed embargo.
I considered abandoning this blog and perhaps beginning another one – anonymously, without notice - where I could express my pain and joy without judgement or fear of causing worry among loved ones. Or I could simply continue self-editing and use my journal – and my counsellor – to breathe… or both… or neither…
But then I read Abigail’s story and I realized that I was tired of worrying about what everyone else thought and that I just wanted to tell my truth. So dear readers, loved ones and strangers, you may read a different shade of me now. You may read things that are upsetting or worrisome. You may also read things that are amusing and deeply personal. If you know me, you'll recognize me - if you don't, you'll get to know me.
Fear not, I’m not falling into a dark pit of despair. Like everyone, I have dark days and light nights interspersed with humdrum errands and busy appointments. You mustn’t fuss and fret. I wouldn’t have thought it possible a year and a half ago but look how far I’ve travelled. I’m making up the roadmap as I go along so let me stretch my legs - I couldn’t have come this far without you.