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A Gift
Allen Writing

My husband was also a writer. He was a much better writer than I can ever dream to be. He had been writing since he was a child and up until 1993 had saved all his work in stacks and piles of typewritten pages. In 1993 he was told by a vile person that he was wasting his life writing. He was accused of ignoring his family in favor of a stupid dream. He was so upset by this that he destroyed all those precious papers that he had accumulated over the years. He burned everything....or so he thought.

In 1994 he gave me some boxes to “hang on to” because he said he could trust me with them and didn't want anything to happen to them. I had asked him what was in them and he said, “Just some old papers and crap...books, magazines...nothing of any value.” I took him at his word and stored his boxes for him. Over the years he would occasionally come to me with a box to add to the Mountain of the Unopened. These boxes have lived in the back of closets and in basements since before we moved in together.. The boxes have traveled to five different locations but remained until recently, unopened.

As many know, I lost my husband to cancer in 2009. On his birthday, January 12th, I missed him so much and was having the hardest day I've had since his death. I decided to get off my butt and be productive. I hadn't been able to face going through much of his things but I figured I was sad anyhow so I started going through the Mountain of the Unopened. Many of the boxes contained just what he had said...old newspaper clippings, magazine articles, a few photos (some of me from years ago that he told me he had destroyed...shame on you, Husband!), and books. I pulled one dusty box with yellowed, brittle, packing tape from the back of the closet. I assumed that I would be looking at more of the same. On his birthday my husband gave me a gift. I lifted the lid to find a treasure more precious than gold and more beautiful than a rainbow. Notebooks. Spiral notebooks, steno pads, college bound notebooks....they were journals. I never knew that my husband kept journals. Handwritten journals dating back to 1977...11 years before I met him. After I stopped crying at this found treasure I started ripping open the boxes like a starving man sets into a steak dinner. Seven of the boxes contained journals. The years spanned from 1977 – 2002.

Last night I sat with American Idol on the television wondering how come he stopped in 2002. Then I remembered that was the year he moved in with me. But why would he stop. Lightbulb! I began my own online journal in 2001 and had mentioned to him one evening while I was typing away in it that it was so much easier to type than to write in my journal because my typing was so much faster and more legible. I had sent him an invite to LiveJournal but he had never mentioned anything about it so I never thought of it again. After all...he didn't keep journals. I went to his computer and pulled up the keylog. It took me a while but suddenly when my eyes were crossing and I was about to give up....Paydirt! I logged into his LiveJournal and there it was ...March 2002 until his final entry in September 2009.

I don't know if anyone can imagine what a gift this is. This weekend I have big plans for doing nothing but sitting and putting all these treasures in chronological order and reading through them. I know I'll read some things that I won't like and some things that I will. I know that I'll spend my weekend on an emotional roller coaster but what a wonderful weekend it will be. He may have destroyed his fictional writing all those years ago but he saved something so much more valuable...a part of himself.

Comments
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What a gift, Renee. You are,

What a gift, Renee. You are, indeed, on line for an emotional roller coaster this weekend. I do hope the ride is exhilarating.
Best,
Jodi

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Indeed a gift

Renee, I am thrilled for you. What a wonder that you could find his online material as well! Can you make a disc of that for preservation?
Your husband will speak to you through those journals, and as you say, there will be things you may not like, but those are thoughts and emotions of that moment, far outweighed by his love. It is terrible that his fiction was destroyed, but you, as a fine writer yourself, may in time want to turn his journals into something that the two of you can publish together.
One of my dearest friends lost her husband to cancer as well, and she wrote a play based on his short stories as an ultimate tribute to him. http://www.redroom.com/blog/marabuck/applause-carrie-robbins
You indeed received a gift.
Always, Mara

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It is a gift. It's a gift

It is a gift. It's a gift that will have to wait to be completely appreciated. I found that it was too difficult for me to read them. I was okay until I came upon the entry of our first meeting. Wow! What an emotional wreck I was after that. So, they are once again in their boxes. They will wait for me until I'm ready.

In the meantime I have been sorting through my own journals and typing out specific events. Eventually I will work it all into a book. I have started but for the first time I can't just sit and let the story create itself...it's already there and while the most difficult thing I've ever written also the most necessary.

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Time

I have every confidence that you will see the story that is already there.  Michelangelo was famously quoted as saying that the sculpture was already in the marble waiting to be set free.  Be kind to yourself, Renee, and give yourself time.

As you have said, you’ll know when you’re ready, and you are one wise lady.

All Best, Mara