A classmate who died during a car accident, a sport mate who committed suicide, a fellow student who died due to a stupid bacterial infection, a friend diagnosed with cancer, another friend who lost his spouse way too early due to cancer, a nephew who lost both his parents at the age of seven. These are just a few examples of the loss and grieve I have encountered in my life when anything you say feels wrong, because you know that the future life of loved ones are lost, forever.
Over the years I have observed loved ones who deal with loss and know that the hole left behind will always be there. Time doesn’t heal, it only makes it a bit more bearable with every day passing.
Online friend Stephanie Booth shared this article today, written by Liz Petrone, and it brought tears to my eyes, because what the author writes rings true. She explains that her mantra always was: Everything is going to be okay. Yet, after losing her own mother she discovered these words didn’t work.
Now the words were hollow and flat, not even touching the ache in my heart. Because here’s the thing: there is no “okay” in grief. There is the loss, and then there is the hole in your life shaped like the person you lost. That hole doesn’t fill back up, I have come to realize. Time might heal wounds but it doesn’t fill holes and it certainly doesn’t bring anyone back. It’s been three years and I still think I sometimes see my mother out of the corner of my eye in a crowded grocery store or driving down the highway. The best I can hope for is that the raw edges scar over and I don’t have to walk around torn open and ragged forever.
The she asks the question:
How do we comfort each other when the simple truth is life is so hard and loss is inevitable and it hurts like a son of a bitch pretty much forever?
She discovered the words that do work while consoling her son after he took a tumble:
“I’m here,” I said quietly, trying it on. It felt right. It wasn’t a lie. “I’m here,” I said again, louder this time, and he softened into my chest, accepting that there was indeed space in me for him.
Those are exactly the words that describe what I’ve learned over the years when dealing with other people’s pain. It is a simple guide to know what to do when shit hits the fan in the lives of those you love: just be there. And being there can come in many shapes in our connected world.
Source: Huffington Post
The sensible people I know are readers. So it’s not a surprise to me that Barack Obama is an avid reader. Michiko Kakutani from The New York Times interviewed Obama about literature and what books meant for him during his White House years.
In that same interview he also tells about his writing (in his journal and short stories):
Was writing partly a way to figure out your identity?
Yes, I think so. For me, particularly at that time, writing was the way I sorted through a lot of crosscurrents in my life — race, class, family. And I genuinely believe that it was part of the way in which I was able to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole.
For me, writing is not so much about integrating pieces of myself, but more about discovering what I actually think and believe. Only when I write it down on paper or screen, I really know what is going on inside. It took me a long time to acknowledge that writing is essential for my well-being. Whenever I have a period that keeps me from writing, I start to feel restless and unhappy.
Later on in the interview, Obama projects his role of storyteller into his next role in society:
When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.
Look, I don’t worry about the survival of the novel. We’re a storytelling species.
I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people.
What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.
I’m so glad to that he puts his storytelling and presidency skills to good use in the coming years:
And so in my post-presidency, in addition to training the next generation of leaders to work on issues like climate change or gun violence or criminal justice reform, my hope is to link them up with their peers who see fiction or nonfiction as an important part of that process.
Interesting perspective expressed by Malcolm Gladwell on the years to come:
Gladwell notes, provocatively, that under the rhetorical genius of Obama, “writers lost their tongue. Now we’ve got our voice back, and it’s going to be a wild ride”. He’s become nostalgic for his days as a reporter: “I would do anything to have my old job on the Washington Post. This is the kind of situation you live for as a writer, moments of upheaval and confusion. As a reporter for the next four years, you’re going to have the best time getting Washington to talk to you. You’re going to have fun. It will be open season during the Trump administration.”
Welcome to 2017!
It’s been hectic for the past two years in my life. All the while I (re)discovered my need for writing. Even did a creative writing course which resulted in a good writing routine…until my daughter was born. Since september 2016 I sort of got back to a working and writing routine, but that all got messed up last December when we decided to sell our house and leave Enschede (a plan that was 3 years in the making). It resulted in a frantic search for a new place, but that search ended sooner than we expected when we came to an agreement with the owners of a wonderful house in Amersfoort. We ‘bought’ it the day before Christmas. So yes, it is time to regroup after the Holidays and get my routines back on track. At least until we move house (between 1st April and 1st of May).
This article inspires me to get started again. No matter how short the time available is (in between play time and feeding a 7 months old girl), I’ll grab the opportunity to write. And perhaps discover the idea for the next big story to write.
After the presidential election in de US, journalism is in an even worse state than it already was. Christiane Amanpour spoke about it and says:
I never in a million years thought I would be on stage […] appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home.
Watch her speech and take in her words.