After Solitude

When I take a break from writing, which happens every so often, it seems to be difficult to start up again. The longer the time I spend away from the keyboard the harder it is to return to it. I wonder if other writers feel the same way.

My breaks from writing allow me a chance to turn inward toward my healing. I always liken it to an animal, that has been hurt, who needs to find quiet solitude in which to tend to its injuries. To rest. Find strength. Quiet the mind. To lick the wounds. And, heal. All energy turned toward the pain. Then, to return to the world, prepared.

Last year held two events which shook my life. The first: the near death of one of my children. Second: meeting the man who killed my daughter. I don’t think I realized, until the end of January, that I hadn’t fully processed either one.

Because December through January is the most difficult time of year for me I was already carrying much pain and anxiety on my surface. My cup was full . . . so to speak. So, those two events just sort of sat perched on a shelf waiting for me to pick them up. I knew they were there and I could see them sliding slowly toward me on the slanted wood. I would have to face them eventually and I had to do it before they smashed to the ground spreading broken pieces around me. I kept pushing them away, not able to deal with all that comes with grieving a dead child, and these new truths, too. To be honest . . . they almost fell. Taking time away from writing was what I needed to do. I needed to turn inward.

I painted.

Painting is prayer. It’s meditation. It’s therapy. Though I am intent on what I am putting on canvas – I am also able to wander around my own mind. Search new places, delve into dark corners, sit in the middle of the storm. Pick up the constructs of the new events and hunt for the places where they fit. Spaces in which they are secure and won’t damage me anymore. Or, do as little harm as possible, at least.

I didn’t write because I didn’t know what I needed to say.

I’m not sure I would have survived the death of another child. I think my already fractured soul would have shattered completely. I can not let my mind go to the place where it asks the question as to how I would truly react. The first two sentences in this paragraph are as far as I can go toward that outcome. I needed to find the place where the consequence of Gabriel’s death resided and make a decision as to how to proceed. While I was painting . . . I found myself at the threshold of this possible aftermath and quickly (and firmly) shut the door. That traumatic event is over. It did not end in his death therefore I can leave it behind.

Meeting Joseph. I’ve talked about this in a few other blog posts. I had to ruminate on what meeting and forgiving him meant. Possibly, I had to see if the forgiveness “stuck” after the emotions of the initial contact dissipated. Again, I needed to whittle this event down to it’s smallest piece and inspect each shaving. I had to make sure there was nothing hiding in the pile that would come back and become a splinter to my soul. Did I really forgive him? Yes. Would this help him? I believe so. Did it help me? Yes. Will it help my boys? I hope so. Is forgiveness really needed? Yes. If so, is it more for the person forgiving or the one being forgiven? Both. Then the big question: am I dishonoring Becca by extending forgiveness to Joseph? By hoping he has a good life? By being willing to help him do so in any way I can?

I think I am honoring Becca’s life by wanting to nurture life. At least, I hope I am.

As I’ve said, the two months that bookend a new year’s arrival are painful for me. Cold months in which I remember, heal, mourn, learn, and reevaluate. I’m licking wounds, both old and new, in order to prepare for the coming of the spring and the advent of new life.

I love you all deeply, Becca, Gabriel, and Matthew. And, I want to be a better person – a better mother, for the three of you.


Author: Diane Neas

I'm a mother, artist, and writer. A decade ago I lost my daughter. I find writing, and painting, heal me. Sharing my story of loss and healing lightens what I carry. And, hopefully, my words help another along the way.

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