“When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
Some friends came to visit me last night. They arrived via my dreams, which is how I first met them a few years back. Our reunion was so noisy that it spilled out of my dream and into wakefulness where we talked almost until daybreak.
I haven’t spent any real time at all with these friends for over a year. In fact, longer…
It started when I went to a writers’ workshop in 2012, run by a man who told me that these friends of mine were worthless. Pirates, fairies, dragons, fantasy – it was all nonsense he said. Children today didn’t want stories like that. Which made me feel quite worthless too. 🙁
So at first my friends (who became my characters) and I no longer spoke because I lost courage. I lost my voice. I lost faith in myself.
Later, although I turned up at the page, I couldn’t find my friends. Lyme laid waste to my mind, and all of my words and memories and imaginings led me down dark corridors that ended in walls with no doors.
I lost the threads of my story. I could no longer hear the voices of my friends. It was as if they had sailed away, leaving me stranded on some distant shore where I barely recognised even myself.
But I’ve missed them and mourned for them, and wondered if I might ever reconnect with them and their magical world, which is the place where I have felt most happy and right.
My beloved fairies and pirates and dragons have left a huge void in my life. Until last night, when magically they returned.
Now I finally understand that I had to go on a transformative journey, that I had to suffer this agonising path, this disconnection, this loneliness and fear, so that I could tell their story with honesty and clarity. I can see how it all relates – my journey, their journey, my family, their family, and it leaves me humbled, excited and just a little trepidatious.
In November I am writing. A cookbook. It must be done. I am happy to do it.
So my precious novel and all my darlings will wait. I’ll keep my notebook by my bed. I’ll dust off my magical rock and my undersea treasures. I’m sure I’ll have more glimpses of where this next part of the story shall lead. And most importantly, I have faith now that this story can be told.
That knowledge fills me with a peace and comfort I have never known before. It makes me sure it is the reason I still draw breath. It is like the most fabulous secret sitting luminous inside my chest.
One day soon, I shall share it with you.