Sunday, June 23, 2013
A Record of Events
"There is nothing special about me. . . My story is a story of very ordinary people during extraordinarily terrible times. Times the like of which I hope with all my heart will never, never come again. It is for all of us ordinary people all over the world to see to it that they do not."
-Miep Gies, Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family
"A memoir? I thought memoirs were written by old people or celebreties." That was how I was recently answered when I shared with someone that I would like to write a book. I'd like to write a memoir. I don't believe that such books are only supposed to be written by someone famous, or someone old, or someone who did something huge and important. According to Dictionary.com, a memoir is "A record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation." Memoirs are for someone with a story to tell. And if I've learned one thing over the course of my life, it's that everyone has a story to tell.
Maybe I'm a bit lofty, or even arrogant, for opening this entry with a quote from the woman whose family helped to hide the Frank family. Anne Frank and Miep Gies are two people whose stories have had a tremendous impact on our sense of history. Still, they were just two people, living in the circumstances that found them. They were just living their lives, lives that happened to take place in a time of atrocity that is burned into our impressions of the 20th century.
I'm not especially special, except in the sense that we're all special, and I'm no hero. But I happened to be the one woman in 1,000 who was told her baby had a fatal neural tube defect. I happen to live in a time when babies like mine can be "terminated" just because they happen to be unborn, and they happen to have a certain condition. I happen to be among that ten percent or less of the one in 1,000 women who receive this terminal diagnosis for their child and still carry that child to term. And from there, I happened to be that anomolous mommy who got to keep her terminally ill baby for ten days and have the privilege of sharing in an experience that has touched countless lives. I happened to be part of an experience that's caused people to think twice about what it means to be alive, what it means to be a mother, what it means to be a hero - I'm no hero, but my son is. With all of my heart I firmly believe that the day will come when we view abortion with the same regret and disgust that we view the Holocaust, every human genocide, every instance of human slavery. If my son's sweet, dimpled smile has an impact on that transition in our American and human spirit, then I've simply been blessed to have happened to be a part of it.
I happen to like to write, and I happen to be fairly good at it. I've got many stories to tell, not the least of which is Gabriel's. Through the course of my life I've been fortunate to meet many people who have stories too, whose stories have touched me and changed the way I look at things. Just about anyone has something to share that can touch your heart and change your life, if you let them.
For two years this blog has served me in healing from the death of my son Gabriel. Nearly two years ago, I attended his funeral after holding him while he took his last breath. Nearly one year ago, I watched his father, my husband, fade from my sight as he drove down the street where our family lived for the last time, our recently signed divorce papers waiting on my kitchen table to be filed at the courthouse. I've spent the last two years here, healing, letting an audience of knowns and unknowns witness my healing and through it all I've been told it's helped to heal them too.
I've still got more healing to do. I've still got more to say. But I've decided it's time to take a break. I'll be limiting my blog entries for a while, in exchange for working on a manuscript for my memoir. I hope to have a rough draft by Gabriel's birthday next year. I hope to have it published by the time I am 35, and with my 32nd birthday creeping up on me I'll have just over three years to accomplish the goal.
I'll still need your help. The appeal of maitaining the blog for me has largely been in the instant feedback. So as I set about working on the book, I hope you'll share with me which entries you've found most interesting, which writing styles you've like the most, and which "characters" - who are all real people - you would like to know more about. Thank you in advance for your responses, as they'll be invaluable in helping me craft this book. And thank you for having taken this two-year long walk with me.