For Saturday, February 27, 2016:
“But with writers, there’s nothing wrong with melancholy. It’s an important color in writing.”
“I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.”
Sometimes that’s all we can do – put our ghosts, our heartaches, our confusion onto the paper – and somehow it helps. Doing so doesn’t necessarily help with the reality, but it does seem to help the way our brains and hearts process and function in the reality. Those who write in journals regularly know this to be true.
Last night, as I washed up the supper dishes, a wave of melancholy came crashing down on me. It took me a while to pinpoint why, but by the time I was finishing up, I thought I could identify the source.
Just this morning, though, as I was in the process of writing this – from a draft of something else that I’d saved months ago – I realized that my dad died on this day four years ago. It didn’t take much of a stretch, then, to connect last night’s melancholy to today’s ‘a ha moment.’
When I was the primary caregiver for my dad while he and we were living with Alzheimer’s, I found some spiritual relief when I managed to write the occasional poem or blog post about the experience.
Alzheimer’s is called the Long Good-Bye for more than one reason. Through the various stages and over the years, I grieved for him in different ways. Poetry welcomed my tears, blogs helped with the day-to-day difficulties, and a story or two appeared from the poignant times, the memories I could grab hold of that he couldn’t.
Perhaps this is why there’s not much of a ghost now. I still think of him, of course, and miss him – as I do my mother, who died 15 years earlier – especially when certain days roll around. Emotionally, my mother’s last illness was harder because it lasted only a year and there was almost no time to say good-bye. But I believe that because I was able to write about both of my parents’ illnesses at the time, there is usually more laughter now, more happy memories than difficult ones.
Apparently, though, there is still a bit of a ghost hanging around today, since this post happened without any planning, so maybe these few words will help it dissipate into a better place.