I lost my husband in the summer of 2008. I became a woman in my fifties with no job (I worked for him) and no income and a mortgage I couldn’t afford. My book Remember the Dragonflies: A Memoir of Grief and Healing describes the five-year journey of winding down the details of OUR old life together and building MY new life. That’s what the journey is: our to my.
A year into that journey, I met Judy. After her husband died, she left Greenwood and moved to Franklin, where I’d lived for twenty years. I was born and raised in the Delta, an hour from Greenwood, and my best friend from high school lived in Greenwood. Gerri called, gave me Judy’s number, and said, “Call her. Go have dinner. She lost her husband, too.” She called Judy and told her the same thing. We had dinner at the Chop House, shared our stories of loss, and went to a GriefShare class together. Judy ended up leading GriefShare sessions, and we still meet for dinner occasionally and keep a check on each other. My book is dedicated in part to Judy.
I wrote Remember the Dragonflies because I figured that if I had struggled, hurt, questioned, and doubted my faith that others were feeling this way, too. And if I could make it through the fire, they could, too.
As a reader, writer, and teacher of creative nonfiction (true stories, personal essays, memoir) this was a story that I was supposed to write. I felt a calling to share my struggle. I felt called to write openly and honestly and let others look inside my heart and soul, even in the dark corners—not afraid to tell it as it was, willing to talk about the things we are not supposed to talk about, because we are expected to stay strong, lean on God, and let God take the hurt from us. I found it doesn’t always work that way. God wanted me to walk this journey right through the fire. And I had to learn that God didn’t promise skies always blue, but he did promise strength for the day and light for way. If I could say all these things on paper, someone might pick up my words at the right time and find her own strength and affirmation and know that she is not crazy for the feelings that bear down on her.
I wrote this book for two reasons:
1. So others like me will know they are not alone in their feelings
2. So friends and family of those who have lost someone who lives in their house every day will know what it is like and what that person might be going through in her grief.
Saturday, February 1, noon, at TurnRow Books, I will join Judy and Gerri in their former town of Greenwood to share my book with friends, readers, and those who have experienced loss.