Why Writing Matters
It was 3 am but I was wide awake. I don’t know why, but I just couldn't sleep. So I opened my laptap and stumbled upon a digital journal entry from January, 2014:
"So, it’s late. I must get some sleep—that’s my New Year’s resolution, to go to bed earlier, but I had this thought the other night and I wanted to write it down, but didn’t, so now that I’m here, I must do it.
This week I will bury my little “Grand”. Whenever I say that I feel a heaviness and I’m a little bit surprised that I’m saying it…and that it’s true. It’s a truth I always dreaded, but knew would come. It’s a reality that makes me so very sad that I really want to cry. Yes she was 100 and her health was failing, but I want to cry for all the moments that will never be repeated. I want to cry for all the phone calls I didn’t make, all the visits I passed on, all the times I should have sat still long enough to listen to her and talk to her…I’m sad for all the times I did stop to listen and talk. For all the phone calls and visits I did make because they are just memories now. The last visit was just a month or so ago. I held her hand and kissed her cheek and I knew it would be the last time…
What I’ve been wanting to write down was something she wrote down. On the back of a deposit slip in her checkbook she wrote: “Marge died today” and the date. It’s not profound, but it is. Why did she write that? Because she knew her memory was slipping, but she wanted to remember…remember her daughter, Marge. Remember her daughter’s death as well as her life. She wanted to memorialize her, but what could she do? She found the nearest pen and slip of paper and she put it in black and white. There it will stay. At least for longer than any of us will stay, Marge, Grand, and the rest of us who are following close behind. “Marge died today” she wrote. So matter of fact. So devoid of emotion, and yet I think she may have written it with a tear or at least a sadness and heaviness of heart.
On January 1st (2014) I got the news and the tug on my heart was so strong that the flood of tears could not be contained. I knew it was coming but I had hoped it wouldn't. The day slipped away before I could find a slip of paper to write: “Alice died today.” I wanted to memorialize her in this way, put it in black and white so we could remember. She’s gone but she lives on, in me and, now, in these words that I have written."
Writing matters because words last longer than memories. We must write to record our histories, to preserve our memories, to protect those moments of genius that fade away if we choose to sleep rather than roll out of bed and grab a pen and the nearest slip of paper.