Why Writing Is Important To Me
August 22, 2015
As many of you have probably figured out by now, based upon occasional speeling mistakes, and, “poor” punctuation, i am not a – Professional writer.
I’m not even sure how many steps closer I am, to the esteemed and unpaid status, of being an amateur writer.
To be honest: I am not exactly sure who gives out those medals, or if we can just pick one up for ourselves, when no one is looking.
Anyhoo, I think it is probably safe to say, especially with my recent use of the term ‘Anyhoo’: I am still a beginner; but one trying earnestly to improve.
As many of you also know, if you have read anything of an autobiographical nature by me, there were some recent bumps in the road.
The kind of speed bumps in life’s parking lot that really f*ck up all the wheels on the shopping cart.
At some time during my grieving process; floating aimlessly in a Uterus of replayed memories, I began to drift towards my Former World.
My Self-Identity, which Grief had leaned awkwardly on for 2 years, had become numb and my emotions entered a torpor away from the rest of me. But with each passing day, and with many supportive people pushing, its fat ass slowly shifted away from my mind.
As it left me, I imagined it pursuing its next victim. We are all potential targets if we have ever loved.
As we all know, when the sleeping part of us finally begins to awaken, the first sensation is pain. Your nerves are angry that they have been exhiled from the whole. The stabbing daggers hurt: the last blood drawn, as curtains close, in the final act of mourning.
When you first begin to feel again, you are like a baby taking clumsy steps in unhelpful directions. And you bump into many things inflicting pain, yet empathy isn’t quite yet online.
The pins and needles inside create social eggshells outside, as if the cocoon has merely expanded. Just a bit at a time, to make sure things are safe. Eventually, the needles inside quit poking, and the needles outside don’t feel sharp enough to cause damage.
So you can start to live again, and exchange social currencies, in their many forms and values.
You know you have really started to heal when you can go a bit further down the rabbit hole of your most painful memories.
You know the kind I am talking about: where your brain gives you a warning jolt, reminding you to think of something else, before you pass the event horizon of controlling your emotions. Kinda like when your brain wakes you up, just before the worst part of the nightmare.
I can now look much deeper into my memory abyss; although as anyone who has lost something precious knows: memory never works the same again. The details always remain somewhat fuzzy, and at times out of reach.
And thinking about how my wife, Kerri Tymchuk died, and what it means to be ‘gone’ in that way, feels different.
The bouncer in my head is in a better mood and lets more thoughts of her hang out, and mingle with my own.
I consider myself lucky for getting to spend 17 amazing years with Her, and am in awe of what Kerri managed to teach me along the way.
In the last few months, when She was on Home Oxygen, and losing weight, we still remained positive, optimistic, and hopeful that tomorrow She would feel better.
Except for this one particular day. On this day, Kerri was scared that She would die.
It would be several more months before that devastating thing would happen, but on this day, She was scared.
We would usually go to sleep holding hands only to awaken in the morning, curled up in our own separate positions.
On that morning, I awoke to Kerri clutching my hand firmly, even though She was thankfully comfortably asleep.
After breakfast, I had to go to the pharmacy, and I came back within 30 minutes.
I never liked being away from Kerri in general, and this tendency attained stalker-like proportions when she was sick.
When I returned from the pharmacy, Kerri was sitting up in bed, writing a letter on yellow foolscap, addressed to the girls.
If you would not mind, please stop reading for 30 seconds, close your eyes, and consider how you would feel writing a good-bye letter, to your 1 and 3 year old Daughters.
What would you say to them?
How could you sum it all up?
What would be the most important thing to tell them?
Can it even adequately be written on paper?
For me, Kerri starting that letter was a defeat that I could not face.
One of the single biggest regrets of my life is stopping the Mother of my Children from finishing that letter.
I convinced Her that we needed to be positive every single day, and if possible, in every single moment.
I worried that cnacer was listening and would find out we had accepted defeat.
Besides, if something else changed, or turned for the EVEN WORSE (as if that were possible), She could write the letter then. Or, if She could not write, She could dictate it to me, or we could audio or video record messages for the girls to watch, as THEY get older.
Within a week, the metastases in my Wife’s lungs, prevented Her from being able to talk with any significant volume.
And for only.
At a time.
When you can’t get much oxygen, you don’t have enough energy to hold a pen, strongly enough to write legibkllkljl.
We recorded several messages for the girls, but they are short, and Her voice is only a whisper. The only part that is really clear, which I am thankful for, is
‘Mommy loves you’.
I have done many things, and will do many more, for the rest of my life to ensure that our Daughters know their Mommy as well as possible. And I would trade a few of my organs to go back to that day, and help Her finish her letter, to Our Girls.
When the Love Of Your Life dies, and it is someone you have appropriately put on a pedestal, there is a significant emotional withdrawal when they are gone. You realize there is sometimes only one person, in the entire world, that really gets you.
And it is hard, when you cannot find their ears or eyes.
The irony that the best person to help you feel better, is the very one that is gone, allows me to understand what is meant by the term ‘Tragic Comedy’.
Those are the scenes where not everybody laughs, or is on the same side of the joke. I now feel the weight of my own mortality in a way that I never really believed before. And I think to myself, what would happen to the girls, if something happened to me?
What would I want the girls to know about me, about life, and most importantly, what their loving Daddy thought about them, and their future?
The reason I write, and have created a blog is twofold.
The first reason is because Kerri is no longer here, to listen to all my stupid stories, and I have to put these ideas somewhere. And it has to be outside of me.
The second reason is because if I die before the end of this sentence, I want my girls to have some other way of knowing me.
And I am hoping, with this essay, that you too will think about some way to create a diary, or scrapbook, or even blog, so that the people that love you can have more of you around, even after you are gone.
Thanks for reading this one, I know there were some sad parts.
Simon Trepel, MD
Note- A resource suggested to me, by a friend and fan of the site, is a Hallmark book called ‘Memories And Messages From A Mother (or ‘Father’, or ‘Daughter’, etc)’.
It is a helpful guide for organizing moments, interesting facts, achievements, education/learning/wisdom, and anything else that is meaningfully unique.
My friend, who suffered a similar loss, when young, found it to be:
“an easy way to organize your thoughts, and worth checking out”.
That’s a great endorsement, from someone who has been through it, used it, benefited, and now wants to help others (which in my opinion, represents the highest stage of healing).
Note- Please feel free to share any other tips or comments about your own grieving process, or perhaps other things that may be helpful to those going through this often difficult lifelong process of oscillating acceptance. It hurts less, as you write more.
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He has made Time Capsules for the girls, and still talks to her in his head.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff