Most of us value a voice that rings true. A message we recognize, one that impacts our inner sense of “yes,” I get that. This is precisely how I felt when I ran across this quote from author Cheryl Strayed: “Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” ― WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
For those of you who know the book, her story, Cheryl lost her mother to lung cancer … her mother actually dies in the first chapter. Sadly, I have to admit that is as far as I got with the book … although, I will return to it someday. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her writing, her story, or even the cover of her book … but as I read, the tones of deep loss I knew so well rang with an intensity that was too much for me at the time. I put the book back on my shelf, and there it has stayed. I noticed it became a movie with Reese Witherspoon playing the lead role, so we gave it a try, but it didn’t seem to capture the book in ways that felt “real” … so yes, we paused the movie. In all fairness, I’m sure the book AND the movie are most worthwhile, and I do look forward to picking up that book (and many others) again soon.
- But Cheryl’s right … most things are okay, eventually, but not all things. Not always, by any means.
As author Natalie Goldberg once pointed out, we do drop the jar of applesauce, don’t we? The jar breaks, the contents spill out mixing with the broken glass. We sigh, try to figure out how to clean it up without cutting our hands.
So when MUCH more serious things, despite strong and dedicated effort, go awry, we can’t help but wonder why. I remember with Matt’s loss how I got stuck on “why” for quite a while. It’s normal, necessary, and … futile … to walk this path. Even IF we could track down “the answer,” it wouldn’t change a thing, would it? And, of course, we never can track down “the answer” … such things are beyond mortal abilities. But it takes time for us to get the message in that regard. The logical mind wants to “help,” but only makes matters worse.
MATTHEW at 26 years, Thanksgiving 2006
Here’s a little toast to you, Matt … hope I got the book right … at least most of it.
Miss you … always. xoxo
Finally, after a very long time, I knew it was time to let go of logic, rational explanations, and all things “definitive.” That’s when I opened the door to the unknown … to whatever was on the other side of “why.”
- Living through significant loss and writing a memoir in the aftermath takes us down many roads … some fruitful, some dead-ends, some made largely invisible by dense morning fog.
In sharing these experiences in my forthcoming memoir, in doing the hard work of memoir writing these past seven years, I’ve had no choice but to walk up and down these roads many times.
What had I missed? What was it that he said, that I said? What had the sky looked like that day? How had it felt to see the sun rise … when my world had gone dark? Why did the silence that morning seem so deafening, so intimidating and vast?
- Why did it feel like a stranger knocking on the door … when before, I had felt comforted by silence?
That’s the nature of monumental change.
That’s the nature of shock.
That’s the pain of losing someone you love.
So … I titled my memoir:
THE SILENCE OF MORNING — A Memoir of Time Undone.
And HERE … is the cover.
Watercolor by Columbia, Missouri, artist Paul C. Jackson
“Despite a crushing loss … here we have a warmth of spirit,
understanding and compassion in a distancing world.”
— Madeline Sharples, author of Leaving the Hall Light On
Cover design by 1106 Design, Phoenix, AZ
I will be posting more about release details in the upcoming weeks. Thank you all so much for your interest in a story that is layered with many themes and topics that impact each and every one of us. Loss and everything that precedes and follows it … is intrinsic to the human condition. Something we are all born into, yet, rarely understand … not until the desire to dig deeper is so compelling that … we have no choice. Until the silence is so overpowering that … we have no choice. ~ dh
- See you again on Friday, October 16th, as I continue to focus on memoir — the genre, the path, the point of it all.
- Always Returning: The Wisdom of Place is a book about digging into our surroundings to unearth an organic, timeless wisdom. If you’re looking for inspiration or want to lean more about a landscape, a place, that helped me unearth my spiritual roots, this may be a book for you. We are ALL much wiser than we think; it’s just a matter of tapping into what we already know. Enjoy!
When we value the journey itself, new realities are revealed amidst the old.