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Patterns Restored by Dreams

“Memory lived not in initial possession but in the freed hands, pardoned and freed, and in the heart that can empty but fill again, in the patterns restored by dreams.”—Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter, pg. 179

These words bring me comfort. And hope. I repeat them and something settles.

I know I’m not the only one out there struggling with the schizophrenic life of loss. We smile. We forget. Then we remember. We nod. We try to make others feel comfortable. We long to go back to sleep.

Fun things happen around us: children squealing on the beach, boating picnics, young couples’ tender touches, a dog lapping the surf. I smile. But inside I’m angry and tired. The tsunami of emotion reminds me of when I ran from such a wave after I came home from Zimbabwe. Why run? What if . . . it catches up with me? What if it drowns me? What if I simply stand as it breaks over me? And rest.

We expect the lost one to walk through the door, send an email, call. An open drawer, a photo, a fragment of last year’s conversation, and they are back. But no, they are gone. And the cycle of denial and anger rev up again. Acceptance hovers, ready to land, but the terrain is too rocky. Meanwhile, everyone around us is waiting. For what? For me?

My heart feels like it fell off a cliff but forgot to die. I’m limping around down there, looking up, wondering if anyone saw me. If help is coming. How much longer? Who listens? A voice calls out, “Don’t give in to self-pity.”

“I’m not!” I call back into the nothingness.

“Get your act together.”

“I’m trying!”

And I limp on.

Writing Tip #6–Write the Wrong The absolute best writing comes from the heart. So tap into your own passion by remembering an incident that affected you deeply, then describe the details within the context of whatever you’re writing. For example, when your character is betrayed (and every good story must have betrayal), be brave enough to unlock the door to that dark memory and re-live the sights, smells, emotions and tastes of when it happened to you, as you describe the same for your character.

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