This post is dedicated to all the blogs we cannot write. All the stories we cannot tell. All the tales that never reach the light of our reader’s eyes.
There are so very many stories blooming inside of us that never birth into written sentences on a white page. My heart aches for these lost story-children.
All the juicy, meaningful, rich, beautiful complex tellings that never ever reach another warm reading soul–because the stories are too personal, too interwoven with another’s private life, too vulnerable, too raw, too messy.
I have a thousand–nay, a million–stories bundled up inside that cannot be shared with you, oh gentle reader. Many of them involve friends and family. There are boundaries that protect my loved ones, gates of safeguarding that provide security for relationships to stretch, explore, break open, pour out.
This writing business can be hard, navigating between the polarities of how to be truthful and how to protect. I falter on the edge of this abyss regularly, but usually end up sheltering the privacy of relationship.
It sometimes makes for a skewed appearance. You, dear reader, can’t see all the ups and downs of this life. You only see the slice of life that the blogger presents, and that can be miniscule. It’s like all those smiling Facebook pictures. Do we really think the smiles summarize a person’s life? Think again, dear reader, and imagine tears pouring down every face.
That’s life. The ups, the downs, the in-betweens, the messiness.
There’s a universe within, and you are only seeing the smallest twinkling of the tiniest star in the black night sky.
A friend died of a heart attack last week. She breathed her last breath at age 65.
When I heard the news last week I too almost stopped breathing. Grief stabbed through this body, raw, hard sorrow. I wanted to sink to my knees in disbelief. No, this could not have happened. No, it’s a mistake. No, take it back. May this be a dream in which she wakes up and I wake up and the world spins backwards into yesterday.
I want to share all sorts of stories about our relationship. How it wasn’t always easy. How we often sat in opposite corners of beliefs. She once told me, “You will never be accepted in this community–you will always be an outsider.” She maintained a mistrust of those not born in the Upper Peninsula. For those who attended college. We felt close sometimes; at other times our backgrounds just seemed too different.
We worked together for 32 years. We attended book club together. We traveled to the Calumet Theater and dined at a Chinese restaurant. We helped another friend clean her house. We snowshoed together.
Our lives intertwined, dancing together, dancing apart. I am crying as I type.
How very complicated our relationships can be. How it’s rarely all love and roses and la de da. It’s grit and confusion and not-knowing and sadness and happiness and and shit all mixed together into a stew of life that’s actually beautiful because it contains the whole freaking Universe. Do you know what I mean? It’s the whole enchilada of life that makes it beautiful, the parts that break our hearts as well as the parts that inspire them.
This is something I don’t think our egos understand. I don’t think mine does anyway.
Once she said to me–words that I carry close to this heart to this day–“I thank you (and another friend) so much for teaching me that there’s more to this world than I ever thought.”
I want to whisper back right now–in this blog that seems impossible to write–“Thank you, too, for teaching me the same thing.”
Because she is still teaching me how to exist in a messy upside-down world where love looms larger than everything that threatens to topple it.
We met unexpectedly twice during the past two years of the pandemic.
In the first encounter I wore a mask and she didn’t. Her energy felt cold and distant; I could think of nothing to say. We flew on opposite ends of the political spectrum and it felt like yet another bridge leading to nowhere. We chatted lightly for one minute; we drove away into our separate lives.
Fast forward a year. We met again three weeks ago in the grocery store. She smiled beautifully and we chatted for ten minutes in the aisle. I told her I was sorry her mother had died last year, so very sorry. (Her mom invited us to Easter dinner forty-some years ago when we first moved here.) She thanked me. We opened our hearts and connected wide-open and smiling and engaged.
The beauty of our relationship shined like the sparkling mirrors on her red Indian purse. She carried an exact replica of a purse I once owned. Had I given her my purse? No, it was a gift from someone else, a common acquaintance who traveled across the big wide globe to India.
We said goodbye; it was so nice seeing you again.
“That’s the one I love,” I told my husband in the parking lot.
Little did we know–it was truly goodbye. Goodbye, my friend, God bless you, Universe hold you, Spirit surround you. Travel well. Thank you so much for expanding my world, even when it hurt. I am sorry for the times I hurt you, too. It’s not true that I only loved you when you smiled. In some ways–in ways I don’t understand with my little mind–I’ve always loved you in spite of our differences, in spite of what drove us together and apart.
I sense she is here watching as I write these heart words, these truth words.
This, apparently, is a blog that could be written. Perhaps because my friend is no longer with us. Perhaps because I imagine her other loved ones will never read this. Perhaps because I’m taking a chance.
Fen Druadin, a woman I follow on Facebook, wrote this today:
“Writers should come with content warnings like “becoming involved with this person, whether romantically or platonically, results in 98% of subjects becoming literal subjects in writing that may or may not become available for public consumption.”
I wish I was that kind of writer. That’s the kind of writer I love to read. But I’m not–so far anyway. I usually choose to shield friends and family, to only reveal a skim of their true messy beautiful confusing wonderous lives. My goal is to learn to push the envelope of vulnerability while simultaneously protecting loved ones.
Do you fellow bloggers struggle with this as well? Any thoughts about how to navigate these waters?