Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing to Remember

I recently attended a memorial service for my friend Patrice. The service was filled with stories of her joyful life, the people she impacted and her accomplishments. Among other achievements, Patrice was an author and copies of her award-winning book were given out to friends and family after the service. Merrill, her friend for more than forty years, talked about the wonderful letters Patrice had written during their friendship and read a few excerpts.

With Patrice’s death, I was reminded of the last few weeks of my dad’s life. Daddy had been battling kidney failure combined with heart disease and was declining rapidly. When the decision was made to move him to hospice, he would no longer be getting dialysis and we knew he would live only a short time — maybe a week or two.
I set up a CarePages blog site a few days before Daddy went into hospice. On it, I posted daily updates for friends and family. I started combining memories of my dad, moments of appreciation for a particular day and updates of his status to create snapshots in time for those who followed the page.
As my entries became more personal, the messages posted began to reflect the content of that day’s update. In one of my entries, I commented, “I’m grateful for the miracle of this time of captured moments.” In response, a friend stated, “I appreciate you sharing these loving ‘minute miracles’ with all of us.”
A few days later, my update was about puzzles. My brother, his girlfriend and I had finished a puzzle that my dad started months earlier, before spending two of his last three months in the hospital. Over the years, I have many fond memories of working puzzles with my dad and siblings. (My mom didn’t enjoy puzzles — she was often in the kitchen making us something delicious to eat.) Putting a puzzle together was a way to visit about the day’s happenings while creating together.
After finishing the puzzle, I was reading When God Winks by SQuire Rushnell and was brought to tears by this excerpt … “Our view of life is limited. We go from day to day, looking at one puzzle piece at a time. But there is another perspective. While we are trying to make sense out of one odd-looking piece after another, we can take comfort know that all of the pieces DO fit into a plan that could only have been created by a higher power. Only when we near the finish and begin to attain a more global perspective does the whole composition have clarity.” I added this excerpt to my update about the completion of the puzzle.
My cousin Sherry commented, “That is a lovely thought. We are so looking forward to seeing your dad later this week, if that fits into the puzzle. What a beautiful scene his life is and has been over the years.”
At the memorial service celebrating Daddy’s life, many told me how the daily updates helped prompt their own wonderful memories of him.

After Daddy died, I created a spiral-bound book that included all the entries and comments from those who followed the updates. When I read those pages, now almost two years after his passing, I am stunned by the encouragement and love that poured out from friends and family, prompted by my few paragraphs every day.
I encourage you to write when all is well, as well as write when passing through a difficult time. When life is especially hectic or sad, as in an illness or a loved one’s transition from life to death, the days blur. A few written thoughts or paragraphs give expression to emotion — particularly when life feels too overwhelming to speak it aloud. Write to tell people you love them. It serves as a remembrance of sacred times, those filled with joy and those awash in grief. and provide free blog sites designed to keep family, friends and communities connected.


Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing.
Twitter @vanessalowry

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