"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, April 10, 2016

You do not write away heartache

My fingers drag across the keyboard, typing, then deleting. When you are a writer and you experience sorrow, your first impulse is to write it all down. You believe that, if you get the feelings up and out of you by writing them, the pain will lessen. 

I won't try to tell you differently. There is a release, a bit of steam off the top. But feelings are wordless. Getting them "up and out" is not a job for the brain. It's a job for the heart, the gut, the body. Typing words is just one piece of the healing process.

We lost a friend this weekend. I say "we" because it's not just me, it's a network of people I have grown to love and trust and enjoy. She had cancer and fought it and just couldn't overcome it and all we are left with are memories of this bright, strong, beautiful young woman. 

Alyssa Barnes was 23. She lived several hours north of us, in Sacramento, but I saw her often on Facebook and once a year when we'd gather for a vacation together. I miss her already. My days did not always include her, and yet there is a black patch in the corner of each hour now that she is gone.

Before she died, she had wanted to be married to her love, RJ. For their wedding, I got her and RJ stars with their names -- something you can do via starregistry.com. Alyssa loved the outdoors, so I thought having stars with their names would, well, ground her memory in this world. On Friday, I rushed to Sacramento to give her the certificate, but I was too late.

This is the constellation, Lyra, and the coordinates of their stars. 

It reminds me of the line in The Little Prince: "If you love a flower who lives on a star, it is sweet, at night, to look at the sky. All of the stars are in bloom."

Alyssa Barnes was a warrior nymph, at home on earth or in water. She was as sturdy as an oak, with many branches for stray birds, and as deep as a mountain lake, with secrets known only to a few. She was grounded and rich as the soil of the earth, and her smile was as clear and open as the sky. She was a rock for her family during life's storms. And she picked her friends like flowers, and pressed them in the pages of her heart.

I will look for her spirit where my feet touch the earth and I can see the heavens above me.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Beautifully said, Gayle. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's impossible to understand why these things happen, and the edges of the pain are sharp and strike when you least expect them. Praying for healing for all of Alyssa's friend and family. And a hug for you. So so sad.

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