Monday, July 13, 2015

Why I Am Compelled to Write

I have never met my grandmother. She died at a mere 26 years of age leaving behind 3 children too young to really remember her. Shortly before her unexpected death she had begun keeping a journal. It was small, written in pencil, her handwriting looked a lot like mine. Her entries were glimpses into her day-to-day thoughts. However, pencil doesn't stand up well to the passage of time.

By the time my mother and her siblings were old enough to really understand the journal entries, to get a glimpse of who their mother had been, much of the writing had faded and been smudged. Those parts of her would never be recovered. Entire pages were illegible. Despite how much she must have written, no one could read it. Had she been happy? Sad? Frustrated? My grandfather was a handful back then, I can only imagine her opinions about him sometimes.

From other people's memories of her I knew she was a kind, forgiving woman who never held a grudge. I knew she was beautiful and a stay at home mom. That she was the love of my grandfather's life, and he'd never remarry because of that. But that's honestly about it. Usually people's stories of her were centered around them, as is to be expected.

I read the journal in my 20's, wondering if I would outlive her, much as I'm sure my mother had wondered in her 20's. The more pages I couldn't decipher, the more I worried that if I were to die there' would be little to remember who I had been. I've long been content with the fact that life is finite, that I too would someday die. The thought, however, that I may put others in the same position my mother and uncles had been in though? That sat like a heavy stone in my stomach.

I refused to be reduced to anecdotal stories told from other people's perspectives. I wanted people to be able to look back and read about my life through my own words. Even if they were frivolous at times. I wrote my first blog post just days after finishing my grandmother's journal. Though it was written elsewhere, many moons ago, you can find that post here. I was 22. I made sure to transfer it over, whenever I moved to a new host for my writing, regardless of how well it was written or whether or not I had said anything embarrassing or worthwhile.

Because your life isn't all about exciting adventures or coming off as perfect/accomplished. Sometimes it's about family dinners on Sunday, waiting in line, having the flu, and losing socks in the wash; and embarrassment is a big part of life. The sooner you realize these things and truly accept them, the happier you'll be. All of this is why I write, to be remembered on my own terms. Should anything happen to me, I'd love for my son to one day read all of this and get to know me as I had been.

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