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Published on September 30th, 2019 | by Kim Green

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The Mother Diaries

By Kim Green

I still possess that pile of loose yellow sheets that I call the “Mother Diaries.” They were never meant to be a maudlin ode, never meant to appreciate or remember. Instead, they were an homage to the transformative power of gut-deep grief.

When I was 15, an unimaginable thing happened. My mother dropped dead on the New York City subway. That single moment transformed me and birthed a prolific scribe and teller of truths.

My parents were divorced, so when my father moved back, he toted a suitcase brimming with grief, rage and regret. A relentless question floated in the air: How can we live without her? I spent countless days and nights silently raging and questioning all of the things that were not for me to question. I now stand grateful for the audacity that tragedy instilled.

I remember the day that I pulled a legal pad off the shelf, instinctively knowing what to do. I wrote and wrote for days on end, freeing all the pain that had festered. I was able to question everything and find the answers. Although my answers were tainted by naiveté and discontent, they gave me a roadmap to myself. On those yellow pages, I was able to say what I needed to say and believe what I needed to believe for my own sake. I was suddenly a 15-year-old “genius,” a writer of essays with the hubris to question everything. I even formed opinions about things I knew nothing about.

Luckily, no one ever read my rage, but it was the sheer sacredness of having a place to go to document my misery that got me through. Every word I wrote was a prayer to ensure that nothing could ever hurt me again. Words became my armor.

When I was 32, something else happened, toppling the towering life that I had re-built. I was a successful business owner, married to a great man, living in the stunning Sonoran Desert of the Southwest. I had an adorable son who was confirmation that miracles can happen. But by my son’s first birthday, I had shrunk into a mere wisp of a woman. My chest hurt, knees rattled and my joints ached. My doctor called to tell me that I had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Once again, I was slapped with another inescapable truth, a tragedy for which nothing could be done. My body was filled with this strange unpronounceable disease, of which I had never heard. But I digress. This is not about that. This is about how writing saved my life, again.

I chose to go public with my news and called every person I had ever known. Talking, crying and complaining, until my mouth ached. Until one no-nonsense angel ended my senseless chatter, asking, “Well, what are you going to do now?”

To my silence, the angel said something short, sweet and profound: “Write something.”

And, so I did. Remembering what my college professor said, “Write what you know,” I wrote furiously and freely about being sick, scared and alone. Those early days were filled with doctor’s appointments, blood draws and steroid infusions. I was able to face it all, knowing that my deepest relationship was with my empty pages; it was the one place I could be myself.

When I wrote, I could think and re-think things that happened and could happen. In my pages, I could ward off the bad and recreate good with the magic wand of my own intention. I could take an aerial view of a situation that was too painful to bear. Writing left me with the mobility to leave the crime scene and see that I was more than just sick. My mind soared on my pages; time stood still as I played with words, ideas and altered reality. I indulged in each syllable, leaving the need for perfection by the wayside.

And as each word that pours out of me leads to the next and the next, before I know it, I realize I am still very much alive.

 

Author and coach Kim Green owns Blank Page Consulting. Her workshop “You Have the Write to Heal” will be at Decatur Healing Arts on October 19 and 26. More at. decaturhealingarts.com/events.

 


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