Along my journey to call myself a writer, I made a choice to take some writing courses through a local continuing education program. An online course was very informative, with lots of leads and ideas on how to write in our digital age. It didn’t exactly expand my social circle of local writers, so I decided to take an in-class non-fiction course as well. This was another kettle of fish entirely. We met weekly, shared our writing, and continued to learn tricks and tools to help us along our writing paths, with skills such as writing, editing, and the art of the query letter. Most of our small class attended a second course, and we built a loose camaraderie that pushed many of us to extend our potential writing careers. The impetus of that was simple—our teachers.
The woman who taught these two non-fiction classes came to writing later in life. Suzanne Boles taught classes at the college, but also wrote for a wide range of magazines, and was an active member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. I somehow felt a kinship with her journey. She lead us all to believe that if we worked hard, we could all become the writers we dreamed we could be. Our little band of fledgling writers believed.
Despite many years of uncertainty about using the title myself, with my teacher’s encouragement, I tried on the label of Freelance Writer. I am happy to report, it fit. While I may not be wildly wealthy, I am comfortable with my role, and like to think that Suzanne helped build that confidence a little more.
As I picked up more clients, I found that I didn’t have as much time for classes. My classmates and I tried to help each other’s writing along in a writing circle, but it never did take off. I drifted away from these lovely ladies, but still bumped into them and our teacher Suzanne online. It was through Facebook, and Suzanne’s postings there, that I heard about her husband’s illness. He died this past Saturday.
Words – Our Best Teachers
The details of this man’s illness are of no consequence to you. He had long-term health issues that resurfaced after years of battles. The last few months, his illness took a decided turn for the worse and he was in and out of hospital continuously. As sad as that is, the thing that stuck with me was Suzanne’s avenue to cope with their trauma. She wrote some blog posts, but ultimately found that status updates on Facebook kept friends and family up-to-date on her and her husband’s mental and physical health. As hard as it must have been to write the words, they also gave her some solace, and elicited a huge amount of emotional support from people. They were obviously well-loved, and shock and sadness were the overriding emotions at play. She effectively touched a wide range of people with her heart-wrenching words and uphill battle with the medical system. Her story had a sad end, but to realize the strength of those words was a beautiful thing to witness.
For as much as words might not always seem like powerful things, they can bring you to your knees, release pent-up feelings, bring people together, and help you to understand your own thoughts and feeling more effectively. They don’t always change an outcome, but they can change the path of it, and indeed the undercurrent of emotion that runs through it.
Writing Your Way Home
My heart aches for Suzanne today. She has lost her beloved life partner. I remember all too well the shock and grief that followed my own days after losing my husband. Picking up the pieces was a monumental task that I never anticipated winning. And as much as I hated hearing people say that time heals, in fact it did. That certainly doesn’t change the grief you experience in the early days of loss though. And it doesn’t lessen the length of time one takes to grieve that loss either. Words helped me tremendously during my healing. Through journaling, I was able to put words to the emotions, thus recognizing the feelings behind them. Words were my teachers, my healing, my grace.
I hope Suzanne can find some way to let go, heal, and move forward in life again some day. Her words, so powerful in the chaos, just might bring her out the other side when she is ready.
Peace to you Suzanne. Your love will carry on.