I am grateful. I am so grateful for so many things I may burst!
Sure, life has thrown bad things my way (hasn’t it for everyone?) and the difference is in how we learn from it. Sometimes we must fall apart before we learn to get up, but get up we must.
I was thinking the other day about the things our writing makes us realise and what books also show us. One of those is in how we, as people, are shaped by what happens to us. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 the time travelling Kennedy novel (which I loved) made me see this in a different way, and Jonathan Tropper’s How To Speak To A Widower did the same. In the latter, which is how a guy deals with the loss of his wife and eventually moves on, he says he gets stuck in the moment his wife dies. And since it was when sitting Shiva (they’re Jewish) his sister meets the love of her life it seems that when she is ready to marry he will always know his wife’s death enabled that, and so how do you deal with that? Their anniversary is the day his wife died. But in the end, he realises life changes you, and without change, there is no life. And somewhere along the line he will meet someone new, even have children and there will be a point when he would not go back; this is who he is now.
In Stephen King’s book, he claims the past is obdurate and so it takes a few attempts to change things as he time travels. One of them is to stop a woman, a local campaigner who has won lots of awards, a woman in a wheel chair, from having the accident as a teenager that put her there; thinking about what she could’ve achieved. It’s his way of testing the past (apologies if this is a spoiler, turn away now if you need to!) and if it can be changed. What he learns is that when he does manage to stop the accident and goes back to the future, she is no longer in the public eye; she is no different to you or I, suffering depression, life gets her down. What does this tell us? Well, put simply, it’s the journey that makes us who we are.
I reached a point, long before I ever met my new man, when I realised how losing Lee had shaped the person I have now become. I always had drive and tenacity, a steely determination to succeed and prove to myself I could do it, but that really came into being when I decided it was about being happy. And I am. Truly happy now doing what I am supposed to do. The point of no return was a sudden waking realisation that who I was, was actually who I was supposed to be now. It made me see how all that pain had made me stronger and put me on the right path; one I was finally happy to be on. I read another novel while editing for a client that posed a question that relates to this. She has a character dealing with loss; a young character who eventually falls in love with someone new; and then, after the wobbles she has in dealing with that, the first love comes back from witness protection. It’s the contemporary take on war novels; your lover is lost in action and eventually you assume him dead, fall in love again and one day he comes home. This poses such an interesting dilemma for fiction because in grief we would give anything for someone to come back; anything. And then life moves on; the grief changes us, so what would you do? Most of these books have the expected reaction, the wonderful knowledge they are still here… but the paradox is their death has changed them so much they can’t go back. They see how they have used that death to empower them and now they want something or someone else.
I have met someone; I am happy again in all ways possible and this is thankfully a dilemma I will never have to face. Now I just embrace what I do have and realise all of the things that happen now show me I’m on track. Of course, if I could still be on this journey and have Lee with me, I would have, but that isn’t what happened and I have moved into a new life now, I am not stuck in the past now. Like Jonathan Tropper’s character, that journey is part of me and will be forever. But it is me now and I have been changed by it.
Embrace change and be grateful for the lessons, however hard they might be to see. Meeting someone new; changing, doesn’t make the bad thing that happened right, but it does allow you to grow and move on, because we have to.
Look for the signs you are on the right path. Never forget what made you YOU.
The journey made me who I am. If things had not happened the way they did, I would not be the me I am.
That is all.