I’ve never written about the day my sister died. Not in a journal, not in a workshop, not for this blog.
She jumped out of a small plane on June 10, 1972. Her parachute didn’t open. Neither did the reserve. She was almost 19. I was 20.
Her death played out in my mind over and over last week. I don’t know what triggered it. The retired man I live with said I moaned in my sleep a couple of nights. It was time to write and let go of something. What?
I decided to write it as the 1st chapter of a memoir. I opened a new blank Word document and started typing.
I never really learned to type and now my hands are damaged by my arthritis so I am a two-index-finger writer. The other fingers just sort of hang there. It works for me. Usually.
I typed 4 1/2 pages. I came back from going to the bathroom, sat down at the computer and looked at a blank page.
All my writing was gone. I felt sick, but didn’t panic. I figured one of my wandering fingers had hit something. Surely I could recapture it.
And I could have, had I saved any of it.
I DIDN’T SAVE. Any of it.
I write this blog on the WordPress website and it automatically saves every so often. I don’t have to remember to save. So I never thought to save while I dug deep into the narrative of my sister’s death.
I called my daughter who knows more computer than I do. I’d already done the things she suggested. I tried everything I could find in the Word Help menu.
It was gone. Poof. Out into the universe.
I sat and stared at the blank document.
And I laughed.
Last Saturday at my women’s AA meeting we discussed acceptance. AA’s Big Book includes this paragraph:
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
What if writing the story of when my sister died was enough?
What if the process mattered more than the product?
What if letting go and acceptance mattered the most?