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On Five Years and What Gets the Last Word

If you follow my EyeJunkie writing you may have noticed it’s been absent for a while. After the holidays, I decided to take a sabbatical from writing for a few months to regroup and maybe reframe my thinking.

Last Fall, I heard words like “moving” and “inspiring” and “heart-breaking” and even “brave” from readers as I shared some of the story of losing my husband in September to suicide after his struggles with depression. I don’t know about the accuracy of all those words, but I certainly hope the writings have brought comfort or understanding or even hope for some of you out there. For me, I somehow found a new and deeper level of honesty and transparency in writing about our sorrows and survival that has helped me to clarify some of the overwhelming complexity of this situation.

But, I needed a break.

The holidays were difficult, as I knew they would be. And they were more difficult than that. They were a push and pull of steps forward and steps back, of thinking I was further along and accepting that I wasn’t. In many ways, the pace and “spirit” of the Christmas season were overwhelming, and I found myself emotionally right back where I was in the first weeks after Mike’s death. I needed a break.

I needed a break from the severe honesty of revealing all the layers of a husband lost to suicide. I needed a break to find how my voice in this journaling space would be reshaped. I needed to find how my life in this new season would reshape. I needed a break from the ever-presence of death so that I could find new ways to create and love and live.

Of course, taking a break from writing didn’t really give me a break from dealing with Mike’s death. Only from trying to articulate it succinctly. But, it did become a symbol and a catalyst to give myself some emotional space to just be — in whatever ways I needed to be through the first months of 2013. To experience the ebb and flow of continuing on without the need to describe it. To let it come. And go. As normal life tends to do. And perhaps in some kind of normalcy, I could gain an edge on death and begin to let other things rise to the surface.

I have a dear friend who, several years ago, after looking through EyeJunkie for the first time, wrote to me that it “crackles with life.” It was high praise from someone I admire, and it served as confirmation that my “message” was getting through. This writing space has always been about life. About ways to really see and experience the scenes of life. To glean their meaning in joy and sorrow. Now. While the moments are here. Before they “go” in that perpetual come-and-go. It’s always been about life. And this Spring I realized I wasn’t willing to surrender it to death.

As much as I loved Mike and admired his perseverance through the struggles of depression. As much as we miss him in this world and the idea of what he might have become on the other side of depression. As much as I’ve wanted to preserve a legacy for him with my children and as much as I need to fully deal with the remnants of his life on this earth, I don’t want my life to be about his death. I don’t want my life to be about sorrow and the mere reflections of this tragedy. And I don’t want my writings here to be a chronicle of death. As healing as it has been for me to share openly about my heart through this process and as vital as it has seemed to become a voice for some kind of truth for others like me, I don’t want to surrender this space to death. For that is not the whole story. Of writing. Of living. Of life. It’s not the story. And it’s not the story I want to write.

And so, I took a sabbatical. Until I could write again about other things. And perhaps about death while LIVING beyond it.

Today marks the 5th anniversary of EyeJunkie. It seems a fitting day to begin again. Five years ago today I launched this foray into blogging with a poem called “the work of angel wings.” As I’ve reflected on writing during this four-month hiatus, I’ve realized that this space has a newer purpose. It began as simply a creative outlet. Now, with a design business, a second design + life blog, an adventure in block printing and the crazy schedules of three itty bitty creative types, I have almost too many creative outlets. Now, my pursuits are more about finding the best places to invest that creativity. Still, I find the process of writing and well-crafted expression to be just as vital in making those choices, especially as I move through a new life as a single mother.

As I continue sharing in this space, I hope it continues to chronicle my “adventures in paying attention.” The newer purposes center in old ones — remolded and re-imagined through hard times that make the call to pay close attention to this precious life all the more real. I’m committed to the same level of honesty begun last Fall about sorrow, and suicide, and depression. The process of healing and living continues, and I believe honesty is necessary. It’s crucial in the prevalence of mental disorders in our world today. And it’s crucial in acting out real life and faith as a human being, But, I’m equally committed to keeping death and sorrow in their place among the broader pageant of living. One newer purpose gleaned in this sabbatical has been the fierce pursuit of joy. And how vital it is to commit myself to finding joy in each day. To make the choices and decisions that bring joy. Lasting and real joy. To see it rise. To weather the ebb and flow of life’s experiences in such a way that allows joy to rise to the surface as evidence of what life truly is. And in this space of thinking and writing, to rightly give joy — and not death — the last and most profound word.

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