Wednesday, August 15, 2012
When it comes to An Inch of Gray, several good friends have asked, although not using these exact words, if it feels weird “getting popular” on the back of my dead son. I, too, have thought about that, but my answer is, um, NO.
Not at all.
There are several reasons I don't find it weird:
1. With my healthy (and perhaps delusional) sense of self-esteem, I believe that if any of my amazing readers and I had run into each other, say, at the Dollar Store or in Target before the accident happened-- blog or no blog-- we would have hit it off.
The circumstances through which many of us were brought together are not ideal (!) but the community we’ve formed is real and significant and important. I also know that while one year ago I wasn’t looking for "popularity,” true friendships have been born out of this tragedy, even among people so far flung we won’t get to meet until, well, you know.
2. Jack would love it! He was proud of me and proud of my writing, even though he didn’t think I was very funny, and he didn’t want me to write anything personal or embarrassing about him on the blog. As a preschooler, he also thought I should run for president someday. He changed his mind about that.
Remember how my sister’s eulogy of Jack said one of the things she learned from him was to “Share Others’ Joy?” Well, while I’m not experiencing gobs of joy right now, it's clear I do gain something very significant from writing this blog, interacting with readers, and seeing something special at work here. I think Jack would be very happy about that as well as getting to see the list of readers in the sidebar grow.
Through writing, I’m able to process important feelings, which helps keep me from having too many meltdowns like the one I had at McDonalds on Saturday. Picture a crying woman waiting for her chicken sandwich. She takes a step forward, at which time her Large Diet Coke flies through the air, spews over the feet and legs of 5-6 customers and crashes to the floor. Follow this with frantic mopping with one measly napkin, copious amounts of weeping, and finally an ungraceful stagger to the car. What kid wouldn't want his/her mom to have a positive outlet to keep the wailing at bay?
3. I felt called to grow through writing and blogging long before the accident, but I wasn’t sure what form that would take. Last August, I shared with Jack at the kitchen table that, out of fear, I had turned down the chance to sell my painted furniture in a friend's store on a permanent basis. I was pretty bummed. I lamented that the woman who had accepted the job had surpassed me in blog readers in 2 short weeks when I’d been blogging for 4 years! Not really sharing others’ joy? I know.
“Aww, Mom, why are you telling me this? That’s really kind of depressing,” he said. I told him I didn’t want him to let fear of failure, or even fear of success, make his decisions for him. I wanted him to learn from my (many) mistakes. So one year ago, I was hoping to accept new challenges and grow through writing almost exclusively about chalk paint, dumpster diving, and decorating, and that would have been lovely. Oh so lovely. I was convinced that was the next step.
But that is not the direction life, or this blog, has headed.
So now, instead of letting fear make my decisions about my writing, or worrying that there’s something odd or unseemly about the way it has spread, I embrace it with a grateful heart.
Grateful that this blog was already in place because I can’t fathom having had the energy or gumption to start one after the accident, and grateful that I had already witnessed first-hand how love and support could flow through the blog world.
Grateful that through Twitter and Facebook and blogs, news of our loss and Jack's impact has spread far beyond our little town.
Grateful for friends, new and old, met and unmet, praying for us and rooting for us as a family, even though it might be painful to do at times.
Grateful that so many people have been willing to open themselves up to what they read here and ponder the hard questions in life and delight in the mysteries too.
Grateful and humbled that somehow through a mom's simple words on a screen, our story-- our most unwelcome, shitty, yet ultimately hopeful story-- could somehow help someone else, even just a little bit, even while it is helping us.
THANK YOU for your willingness to be in this with us.