Sometimes admitting how human and frail and scared you feel is in order. I was deathly ill for a long time, and it’s why I didn’t start writing until a few years ago. Between doctor’s appointments, working full time, and trying to keep my heart beating, my world was small, and there wasn’t space for writing.
When I had the surgery that finally solved the problem, I had six weeks of medical leave. For the first five weeks, I was housebound, since I couldn’t drive, and my body had too much healing to do. My big excitement was walking around my small garden and the park across the street. The rest of the day I watched Netflix and read the piles of books loving people gave me.
On the walks or as I deadheaded anything in my garden between the height of my knees and my shoulders or carried my small watering can from my kitchen sink to water my hanging baskets, I thought about a new future and what I wanted. It was the first time in years I gave myself a chance to dream beyond living through another day. What floated up was a desire to write.
For the last week of my medical leave, my husband and I went to Maine to visit my mom. There was a new vision in my mind, and I was afraid to tell anyone. I didn’t want to get up my hopes up. I wasn’t used to possibilities yet. On a visit to the Farnsworth Art Museum gift shop, I bought a beautiful notebook with gold on the page edges and blue and gold flowers across the hardcover. I even bought a matching pen.
I didn’t write a word for six months. My brain was active for the first time in years, words flooded the surface, while fear hovered at the edges. So, I signed up for a memoir class at an arts center forty-five minutes away. It ran for eight weeks in the middle of winter in Upstate New York. Not a single class canceled due to the weather, which is unheard of around here. During those weeks, I filled the notebook.
I can understand when people say they find writing to be difficult, but for me, I don’t feel that way. I love it. It’s hard, and I’m slower than I’d like to be. I mean, I saw Joyce Carol Oates last weekend, how can I ever catch up? Let’s face it; I can’t. I saw Richard Russo a few weeks ago, and I was amazed at how many books he’s written and his drive to write until the bitter end of his life. His love of writing was contagious.
Each day I feel lucky to be alive, to have a working laptop, and to have found my people. I know I’ve changed since before. I’m getting to know myself and the much older person I am than I was before this all started. I can’t compare myself to other people or waste time getting mad at something I couldn’t control. I continue to scare myself every day by stepping farther and farther into the world again. Somedays I want to curl up in my old spot on the sofa and hide. At least now I have the energy to understand it and to tell myself I’ll be okay.