I cannot stress enough how much writing has served me in the months since John died. Writing has allowed me to illuminate the saturated murkiness of deep grief in a way that continues to surprise, and at times, exhaust me.
Even though the aftermath of loss is where people typically find themselves with, “no words,” I, for some reason, have been able to find many.
And so I’ve written them.
I’ve written about the love me and John had and continue to have. I’ve written about what it felt like to have met him and why it mattered so much. I’ve transcribed the events that led up to the night he died trying to get out of his plane during a routine landing. And I’ve written at length about how my life has unfolded since.
Writing has served to cauterize the deepest and most gruesome parts of this experience, as well as to illuminate the incomprehensible moments of re-connection that I’ve been blessed with since the accident. My writing has connected me to so many others whose journeys run parallel to mine, and I believe it will find its way to people who need it down the line.
My writing has helped me, and so I’ve continued to write.
My writing has also led to many of my closest friends and family earnestly telling me the one thing that almost everyone who faces a tragedy hears at some point: That one day, I should write a book about all this.
(Believe me when I say that I take this as a compliment).
People have urged me to write a book about the life I had before John. My relationship with him. And the healing I’ve undergone since his death. Almost every widow I know has been urged to do this.
Some do. Some don’t. But all our stories, untold or not, really would make for great reading.
I, speaking for myself, find the task deliriously daunting.
Maybe at some point in my life, I will be able to pluck out a single thread in this Gordian Knot of an experience, but until then I think what I want to say most is this: that my life… this life that would make a great book…I truly wish I did not have it.
I wish it so very much.
I wish my relationship with John didn’t have to be described as “epic.”
I wish I didn’t learn first hand how death can open people’s hearts, only for them to realize that it’s too late for it to do anyone much good.
I didn’t want a life where I watched one of the kindest humans anyone has ever known die. And I didn’t want a life where I learned that I could survive that kind of pain.
I most definitely did not want a life where some people think I’ve lost my mind because I can see John’s love manifested in dreams and cell phone glitches and balloons.
I did not want to be a seeker. I did not want wisdom. I did not want to be an example of strength. I did not want any part of this life.
No one would.
I wanted what almost everyone else I know wants…the norm. I wanted a benign life, yet I was given this one. And I know people want to read about it because I probably would too.
I suppose the easiest thing to read about are the difficult lives people lead.
But I don’t want a book about me and John because between the romance, obstacles, tragedy (and eventual magic) that our relationship carried with it, I feel we were really more the “fairy tale” type. I don’t think many people could disagree.
I want our stories to be told in times where immediate comfort is needed, even if that means our names will eventually get lost to time.
I want people to hear about us so they fight for and forgive those they are lucky enough to love in this life.
And I hope, at some point, the story of the time John sent me quarters makes its way to a grieving person who needs to hear it. I want people to hear about “some pilot” who shows up in kids dreams because he really wants to talk about planes. I want people to look at red balloons and think, for just a second, that maybe there is more to this life than what meets the eye.
I want nothing more than for these stories to be shared and told…so I will keep writing. I want nothing more than for people to find hope and re-connection after they lose someone, so I will keep writing. I feel like it is what I was meant to do, so I will just keep writing.
But I also wish with all my heart that I was the one hearing and reading these stories, not the one writing them.
I don’t want to be living through the difficulties that make for easy reading, no matter how great the book would be.
You wouldn’t either.