I usually talk about writing techniques. I had planned to talk about the importance of plot in stories, but I am changing my direction right now. Writing, after all, speaks to the heart, to the soul. Writing helps us to deal with emotions, such as grief. With all the talk about mindfulness as of late I would like to say that it is necessary to look our emotions directly in the face and deal with those emotions rather than ignore them by breathing deeply and humming. Everything matters: our past, our present, and our future. It all has made us who we are, for better or for worse. To that end, I keep journals. I write and examine my emotions. I be honest with myself. I take backward glances to identify where I went wrong in hopes that I will not repeat the same mistakes again. I plan my day, I look towards my future even when fear tries to hold me back, even when grief seems to want to have the last word. My words within my journals remind me of who I am, where I have come from, and remind me of my dreams, of my goals. My journals also act as memory books to help me recall those loved ones I have lost. Keeping a journal has been instrumental in helping me to work through grief. When I read my words I recall my mother’s laughter as we window shopped, I recall those days of childhood when my father and I would plant zinnias in our garden, I recall my sister Sara and her annoying habit of telling me what to do. Writing in a journal is a tangible act; it helps with clearly seeing life as it was, is, and can be.
My brother has just recently been diagnosed with stage III lung cancer. I lost my mother and my sister to cancer. My mother died of lung cancer; my sister of brain cancer. Now, I stand to lose my brother to this disease. In my grief, I wondered who to blame. Is it the tobacco companies for knowingly injecting addictive poisons into cigarettes? Is it my sister, mother, and brother’s fault for having chose to smoke? These are questions I struggle to find answers to. We will all die of something, of course. That is the nature of this life, but that fact does not lessen the depth of loss, the profoundness of grief.
To cope with this inevitable loss I write poetry. I write short stories. I am writing a memoir and a novel. I also am a photographer. I want to capture the beauty of this life that is blended with the inescapable sorrow inherent in this existence. To cope with this inevitable loss I spend each day talking to my brother, to my family, to remind them that the love I feel for them is greater than any sorrow that will befall us. Love conquers all. Love defeats the grave. Love is eternal.
This poem is for my brother Harold:
Uncoils-grief does one section at a time,
soul bound by razor wire; movement impossible, trapped, stunned by the inevitable ending
looming large in the distance, specter of death, heartless, relentless stalks my brother’s shadow.
Cancer lays claim, eats away, takes from him the life God gave.
November day, my brother turns his face to me, sunlight illumines that shadow of our mama forever filling up that space between us.
Brother turns his face to me, his tears are unbearable for me to see.
How do I let him go?
How do I live on without him?
What do I do with this profound loss looming in the distance?
Broken heart of mine shatters completely.
How do I let go of my brother?
Copyright 2018 Jenny Andrews