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Practicing Writing Naked…

September 6, 2017

It’s odd how some days emotion lurks dangerously close to the surface, seeping through the skin and threatening to release in a flood of tears. The philosophies and circle of life is such a mix of joy and pain – that is why I write. There is no other way to sift through the mess and try to make some sense of it.

My mother in law lays in a hospital bed at seventy-eight years old. She had no health issues and went to the hospital for a broken rib.

She never got out.

The X-rays revealed kidney issues, which led to dialysis. This led to a stroke and a brain bleed and a stint in her brain. This led to feeding issues, and then pneumonia. Now she’s in ICU and we don’t know what will happen. My husband waits every day by his phone, dreading a call, the nights spent hoping sleep isn’t broken by a professional, clipped voice telling him the news of her passing.

My son attended his first day of middle school. School is a reminder to me my children are on loan – though in my bones and heart they are all mine and I love them with a fierceness that would intimidate a mama bear, once he got out of my car and walked toward the school, I realized I was on the timer. He is becoming his own person, learning the rules of society and figuring out who he is. What actions he can live with and which ones he can’t. He’ll make many mistakes and get his heart broken and I’ll stand on the sidelines watching.

I’ve been crying most of the day allowing myself to feel the reality of my children growing up while my mother-in-law battles for life. Crying is damn freeing and it’s truth for me, on this day, in this moment.

I think of my mother in law sending my husband off to school for the very first time. The clothes may have changed, the social environment and the schools are different, but the actions of letting go are timeless. Did her heart squeeze with pride and joy and sadness when he disappeared through that school door? Did she think of him grown up, with a family of his own, sending off his own children like I do right now? Did she memorize his crooked smile and big boy clothes and shiny new backpack and hold the image tight to her heart, positive she’d never forget it?

Today, I watched my dog sleep undisturbed when I entered the house. She never picked up her head because she didn’t hear me. She’s fourteen years old and half deaf. Her face is white and she has to go the bathroom more and she sometimes walks like her hips and joints ache. I think about when I got her as a puppy at eight weeks old, and how when I held her for the first time, she threw up all over me and I knew she was meant to be mine. I think of how she ate my furniture and curtains and most of my shoes and how she’d run so fast, no one could ever catch her. I think of how she lays on her leopard memory foam bed beside my desk every day while I write. And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write again if she leaves me. So, I’ve been treasuring her more lately, giving her extra bones and kisses and quality time, because when I see that beautiful white face look into mine with pure adoration, my heart feels like it’ll break it’s so full. And I try not to think past the moment because it hurts too much.

Some things begin. Some things end. Some things continue.

Everything changes.

Take all of it – especially on those days when the mess is bubbling up like a pot of stew, spewing bursts of food against the walls, leaking over the stove, a bit out of control.
Take it and use it in the writing and refuse to apologize. This is the stuff that is human and real and true.

This is the stuff that must be on the page because it will translate to a great book.

Tomorrow I may wake up and feel none of this. I may look back and laugh at myself for feeling so vulnerable and emotional and silly.

But I don’t want to forget. This day happened and it was real and it should be turned into something beautiful.

It should be turned into story.


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  1. Jennifer Hevern says:

    Ugh! What are you doing to me??. This, this right here is why I love your books so much! You get it! And you put the truth of emotions on the page every, single time. Thank you.

  2. Crying with you…and sending vibes of support.

  3. Some days it can all be too much. And when it is, writing it out is sometimes all that helps. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Danielle says:

    So open and honest! Love your perspective on this particular day… how many of us feel so often. Sometimes it’s like watching someone else’s life and then remembering it’s your own.

  5. Donna Alward says:

    Oh, Jen. Our pup pup is in the same way – 14.5 years old, deaf, and yes, I mop the floor darn near every morning. We said goodbye to my step dad last Christmas, my eldest drove away to university again last weekend, and my youngest starts her senior year tomorrow. And while the last 2 are the way things are SUPPOSED to be, I have to say, watching your kid drive away to live in a new city with a car packed with clothes, sheets, towels, and love, is a hard, hard thing. Knowing tomorrow is the youngest’s last first day of public school is bittersweet.

    Sometimes I get so caught up in the business of this business I forget to sit and savor my emotions and use my powers for good (in the story). Lovely post today. Wistful is my favorite color. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Aww Donna my heart clenched reading this – I’m so glad you read my post thank you. Loved your last comment so beautiful – wistful is a lovely word.

  6. Beautiful post! Know you’re not alone. After my brother took his life last year, life has become more precious and I’ve taken a lot more time to spend time with those I love. My heart goes out to you.

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, Isabella, I’m so sorry for your loss – that’s heartbreaking but yes, savoring moments that are good can truly help. Cyber hugs.

  7. […] health. K.M. Weiland lists 6 lifestyle changes you can make to protect creativity, Jennifer Probst practices writing naked, Benjamin Thomas reminds us that in writing, it is the journey that matters; and Emily Wenstrom […]

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