A Funny Thing Happened on the Way
I could have never predicted what was about to happen. I had worked on a memoir for a year, sending each chapter across two states via wireless Internet to a writing coach who was also the head of a hybrid publishing company. My “book” opens with me waking up from brain surgery in 2006. As I finished the last chapter, wrapping up with all I had accomplished since, I discovered that the brain tumor had returned. Now what?
I backed up my manuscript on my Mac’s Time Machine and Dropbox, and settled in to wait for yet another brain surgery and long recovery.
Obviously, being as this was a memoir, I spent quite a bit of time discussing my parents and my upbringing. I was raised in an alcoholic family. My brother and my father eventually committed suicide. The typical fodder for memoirs. But this past year, while my manuscript was lying dormant on my desk and I was lying dormant on a bed, God’s Spirit moved upon my heart. I began to see my parents in a whole new light. So much so, I will have to either change or add to the manuscript before it ever sees the light of a publisher.
Honestly, as I began to reflect on the trauma my parents dealt with in their own lives, both prior to and during their marriage, the more I began to see them in the role of heroes instead of villains. I am not romanticizing past history. I realize that they could have made different choices and dealt with their pain in ways that did not affect their children so negatively. But I began to better understand why all of our lives came crashing down around us. As I thought about some of my own choices as a young adult, I can honestly say that their choices were ultimately better than some of my own. All I can do now is continue to live my life differently. I have already outlived them. Both of them died when they were a decade or more younger than I am now.
Many advise waiting until parents and others are dead before writing a memoir. I think that’s good advice. But I would add that before writing something you may later regret, give God time to heal your heart. There are some things you may wish you had not revealed about those no longer around to defend themselves.
I remember standing before a judge after getting a traffic ticket when I was eighteen. I had been driving my mother’s car and she had out of date tags on the license plate. When the judge asked me how I would plead, I said, “Guilty with an explanation, your Honor.” Perhaps that’s how my parents would have pled if they could have read my memoir.
“Guilty, with an explanation.”
With all this new insight came a healing I hadn’t experienced.
And just for fun…
When we played softball, I’d steal second base, feel guilty and go back.
― Woody Allen
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