Last night in class we covered memoirs. One writer's submission gave pause to many who asked whether it was fiction. It was all dark with no light to balance the story. Since we’re to critique each other's work, I wanted to know if she learned anything from her traumatic experiences, if it changed her, because everything in life - good or bad - teaches us something. All I read were words of sadness, anger, resentment, fear and hate. And it’s not enough to pen your dark life on paper, you need to balance that with lessons learned and wisdom gained.
After class we walked together to our cars. I commended her on her courage and commented it couldn’t have been easy. She agreed it was the hardest thing she's ever had to do and confided between silent tears the history omitted. She said her life had been built on secrets and how she now wanted to live otherwise. She was writing this for her future children and if I as an adult unemotionally connected to her found it a difficult read, I couldn’t imagine what it would do to a loved one. I saw the toll it was taking in the dark circles under her eyes and tired look. She commented how she was finding it difficult to sleep again. I finally gave her that hug. I think she needed that; I know I did.
Ugliness and harshness spares no one in life yet I found her fearless in disclosing those feelings publicly and stood in awe of her brave, young heart. I would never be able to be so open about personal pain yet sadly understood some of that pain. And so, the young woman who opened her heart to me this week has been on my mind. I wish her peace and strength, but not courage. Because that she has more than enough. Because on the road she’s had to navigate, courage is the passenger she picked up along the way.