The night my beloved grandfather, Grandy, passed away, I slept on his couch in the den, alongside my mother. My Grandma snored loudly next to his hospital bed in their bedroom, a bit of comic relief at such a tragic moment. The hospice workers had told us he was "on his journey" and we knew he would not be with us much longer. In the middle of the night, or early in the morning, Grandy breathed his last, my mother next to him, having had a sense he was going. When he was carried out by the undertakers, they advised us not to watch, and so my Grandy left what he proudly called his "little nest" for the very last time.
I was 20 years old, a college student. As I drove back home that morning, my head and heart filled with the words I knew I needed to say about my grandfather. I walked in the door, sat at the computer, and typed. I wrote his eulogy, hours after he passed away, and somehow later found the courage to stand up in the church and speak, through the tears, about a man who shaped my life and whom I loved so dearly.
I've turned to writing many times in my life. The wedding toast for my sister was drafted and revised months before her beautiful day. The poem I wrote for my son as I waited for him to be born was framed and featured at my baby shower. The letter I wrote to my mother on her 65th birthday to let her know how much she has meant to me was featured in a scrapbook of pictures and letters from others, too, so she can see how much she is loved. The book I made for my husband when we were dating, an A to Z of our memories together, still sits on our shelf, a reminder of people we were before we were parents.
Why do I write? Why do I care so much about writing and want my students to care too?
I write to share stories and connections. I write to honor the people in my life whom I've loved and admired. Writing is a small gift I can give back for all they've given me. I write to make sense of the incomprehensible, to find meaning at times when things feel hopeless. I write to be seen and heard, to share my ideas with a greater community. I write at times of joy, sorrow, confusion. I write to remember and maybe be remembered.
Writing is an act of courage. No one can give you the words- they must come from inside of yourself. Writing reveals your thoughts, your heart, your passions, your fears. It breaks down the walls between people. When you write, you invited others to step inside your shoes for a while and see the world from your perspective. You show them your heart. You can't hide when you write.
And so I write, to be free, to be honest, to connect, to dream, to imagine, to create, to suppose, to remember, to honor, to give, to make sense.
Happy National Day of Writing to all the brave writers I know.