One was writing down my feelings.
I’d never done that, but after the most devastating event of my life I found myself creating vignettes over the next year or two. Here are a couple of the shorter ones.
Life! Her! You embraced it passionately—just as you did her. You inhaled its beauty, opportunity, adventure and enjoyed it fully—just as you did her. You searched for every nuance—just as you did her. Life! Her!—Her! Life! Inseparable. You used to want to live forever—with her. You were an active participant in life—with her. Now you’re only a spectator—without her.
The dress will attend no more parties. The book is forever closed. The thyme, old and soggy, has doctored its last meal. Memories—one box for good will, one for the library, and the other for the city dump.
I had a friend who told me the vignettes sounded like C. S. Lewis. I very much doubt that. Besides, I’m not sure I’m happy with the comparison.
I was to learn that time does amazing things. Eventually I met a woman understanding of my loss and misery who was to bring me to the next chapter of my life in a way that honored the past. I wrote her this:
When I see gray, you show me color,
When I feel despair, you offer me hope,
When I embrace death, you introduce me to life.
Eventually, eight years after my loss, these and my other writings sparked the creation of my first book, When Your Lover Dies, which includes the vignettes and my path to living. I call it a self-help book. Others have said it’s more like a memoir.
It is constructed of three sections whose titles accurately communicate the content: From Marriage to Death, Passing Through Hell to Recovery, and Peace and Advice.
I read dozens of books attempting to help deal with death and loss. None resonated with me. I think mine is more powerful. Probably not for everyone, though, because we all deal with life’s disasters in our individual ways. But I really thought it would be helpful, and to some it has been.
But there has been no massive outpouring of demand. I sent it to Oprah (is that thinking big or what?) and its receipt was not acknowledged. I sent it to an advice columnist and its receipt was not acknowledged. I sent it to publishers and agents and there was no interest.
But I’m content, because I think it may well be the best work I’ve ever done. Even more importantly, writing it helped bring me to the point where I can embrace being alive so I can share this time with that woman who showed me color, hope and life.