Sunday, November 15, 2009

Breaking the silence... with a sledgehammer

I went through a divorce when my kids were little. The pain of it—hurting them, uprooting them, depriving them—became a weight that only got heavier over time, a thick blanket of sadness and unrealized dreams and guilt that I couldn’t throw off. My then-friend Lana Buckley told me one day, “Don’t worry. Someday you’ll feel safe again, and you will be able to write again.” Funny. I don’t know how she knew I wasn’t writing. I’d been working on a book on Downs Syndrome kids. I had photos and interviews, and it was a project for which I felt great love, pride and satisfaction. But it was one of many things I was forced to abandon when I left my husband, a loss I could not fully account for until years later, when I finally had to simply let it go, accepting that I would never get back to it.

Lana was right. It took years, but I finally did begin to write again. And so I recall her wisdom now. I spent this past summer writing, posting to this blog, working on some projects I’d wanted to get to during the school year. But all that creativity came to a screeching halt when my brother passed away on Labor Day. Yes, we knew it was coming. I’m here to tell you, you can never ‘be prepared’ for the finality of a loved one’s death. Ever. Knowing we’d lose him soon didn’t diminish the sadness at his loss. For awhile, that sadness was my constant companion, shadowing me as I ‘chopped wood, carried water,’ carrying out the daily routine that enables me to make forward progress even in the emotionally dark times.

I can’t say I’m ‘over it’ now, that I’ve come to terms with his death. Close friends have offered honest comfort in saying that this kind of loss isn’t something from which one recovers; one simply accepts that the wound will never fully heal. This seems right, given my experience with the death of my father and a few close friends.

But I have at least come to the place where, after over two months, I was able, last Wednesday, to write again. Some of you know that I journal frequently. When I finally did put pen to paper, I had a lot of catching up to do. I sat in the waiting area of Big O Tires in Rancho Cucamonga for two hours while they put tires on the Tacoma and changed the oil, and I wrote page after page after page.

In the coming weeks, I will try to be more faithful about posting here. Several of you have sent emails of gentle inquiry, missing my writing. You can’t know how much I appreciate that; writers do what they do in solitude, as I have noted in the past. The process is at times a horrifically lonely ordeal. Knowing that the words are finally read and appreciated gives one courage to go forward.

And go forward we must. Life is all about making forward progress, is it not? If we halt in our journey we most likely are not learning or growing or giving. It is my intention to continue doing all three of those things while breath remains, so—onward!


  1. It sounds like you've had some diversions, but you're still on the journey. Diversions can be frustrating because they keep you from a goal, yet inspiring when you discover something amazing or transforming as a result.

    Have you ever read Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART? If not, I highly recommend it.

  2. I love to read your writing Ms. Murphy : ) and i certainly can relate the horrible void felt after the loss of a loved one

  3. They say time heals all wounds, but the scars are there for life.