I went to Staples today to make a few copies, the place I vowed I’d never buy anything at again after the computer desk debacle a few weeks ago. But went there I did and I ran into someone who had read the column I wrote about the Bruce/train experience I had while on vacation a few weeks ago.
I’m overwhelmed by the response to that column. I’ve written a lot of words in my life, but this blog that I turned into my newspaper column has by far drawn the most intense response. I’ve received emails from people who’ve lost loved ones in similar accidents and found the column thought provoking, or it made them angry, not at me, but at their loved one or their inability to resolve their feelings about the death. Others cried and said they tried to put themselves in my shoes. Whatever the reason, people were moved by what I wrote and that humbles me beyond description. My goal is always to write something that makes people think of their own lives, their own experiences because I believe writing should always be about the other side, the place beyond the writer. What a writer writes is never really about the writer. It’s what’s invoked in the reader.
And so the responses I’ve received put me in the position of reader. I wanted to share one of my favorites. It’s one I won’t soon forget.
I have a mottled sense of the afterlife, but I think about it differently after reading this.
“I read your blog this morning and I never heard this about the dream! When you were writing about Bruce in March, Pam and I talked about it once and she talked about driving out for his funeral and she said something like, “Trains are different down there. The intersections aren’t marked, no lights, and the trains are super fast and super quiet. Kayla and I thought they were a little freaky.” Well you said a revelation… and it was a big one. An accident, and that’s it. A mistake, nothing more.
“I could picture it, too, in your writing, the sudden, massive presence of the train–a long whistle buried in the sound and whoosh of the engine and wind, the pretty, flat farm country. …sigh…
“I want to tell you this, too. My cousin had a near-death experience. She’s a couple years younger than we are and summer before last she had a riding accident, was pitched from her horse, landed on her head. She said it was all true about traveling to a light, people she loved greeting her, though afterward she couldn’t remember exactly who, just that she was so glad to see them, and she says what freaked her out the most about it when she came back to earth was that in that moment, it didn’t matter.
“She was perfectly happy joining the angels and not returning. She said she even wanted to tell her husband and her 10-year-old son that it was fine. Her dying was fine–not to worry—they’d be fine, she was fine, it didn’t matter. But she didn’t die. An ambulance was called, she came around, told everyone about the light and the angels and they stared at her. She gave up riding after that, shocked at herself that she found it so easy to die and her spirit so willing.
“So my whole point is that if Bruce was able to make his way back to you to explain, he cared an awful lot, more than spirits typically do once they’re outta here. It wasn’t as if he left casually or was at peace about it if he made his way back to explain like he did.”
Damn. Reading that again still leaves me breathless and in a strange way…happy.
That’s what I love about reflective, honest writing.
I’m so very glad for the responses, and in particular for this one.
And the beat goes on….