Since coming home I’ve been working steadily on a novel that was always meant to be for Tim.
It breaks my heart that he won’t ever get to see that dedication – for my brother – and to really get how much he meant to me and how much our relationship, often challenging, always complex, also enriching and inspiring, has made me who I am.
But even though he’s gone, I’m writing it.
And I’m aiming for honesty.
I’m aiming for the energy of a character evolving, owning her life, growing beyond herself, her difficult circumstances.
I think about what Anne Lamott said in Bird by Bird, which I re-read this fall, about writing gifts for people, about how “there is still something to be said for painting portraits of the people we have loved, for trying to express those moments that seem so inexpressively beautiful, the ones that change and deepen us.”
Of course, Matt, in my book, is not Tim, but you know what they say: don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Lamott also says this: “Toni Morrison said, “The function of freedom is to free someone else,” and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else.”
That’s what I’m doing.
And since Tim’s death, since returning home, I realize there’s no time to waste.
Life is so short, so precious, so unpredictable (case in point, other than my brother’s death: Tuesday night, when a man accused of sexual assault by seventeen women – and everything else – can still be elected president).
Wednesday morning, after scrolling through the expressions of shock and despair and uncertainty on my social media accounts, I shut off the Internet and got back to work because ultimately, for me, that’s what will last.
A lesson I learned a long time ago: Nobody cares if you write.
Nobody cares if you turn towards the deeper purpose of your life or spend hours meant for creativity streaming Netflix.
Least of all someone like Trump, a classic narcissist, who cares nothing for other people and everything for himself.
So, it’s more important than ever, I feel, to reach for higher purpose, to make meaning out of seeming meaninglessness, to help others find freedom, to express our love.
To tell our hard stories.