(Note: I wrote this a few months ago when a writing friend died very suddenly. I’m only now sharing it.)
We still ask that question, don’t we?
But I have questions.
This is an essay of mostly questions.
Have we not lost enough writer loved ones in the middle of their life work?
At the beginning of their work of promise? Who had so much to say?
Who were making the world a better place? Guaranteed?
Who were taking chances with who they were, with what the world
had taught them, done to them, in order to put on the page those beautiful lessons?
What would they say about our being here, but not using our time?
Have we not lost enough loved ones who were hard at work and, unbeknownst to them, inspired us to work harder? Or to begin our creative journey in the first damned place?
How about people we never personally knew, but emotionally depended upon for our creativity? What would they say about our not being able to write, or paint, or sing?
What does waking up in the morning and finding out that someone you cared for and was laughing with only a few days ago, singing with, studying with, writing with, living with, is now a memory do to your sense of writing urgency?
Yet in the midst of devastating loss and that long hard afterward we hesitate, don’t we? We slow in the confusion. We don’t work through the slog.
Have we not lost enough to realize that our turn is coming?
That if, in fact, we believe our own rhetoric about having something to say to the big world then we’d better quit staring at the thieving clock and get to staring more at the giving paper. At least then our eyes are pointed in the right direction.
“But I don’t know what to say,” we might respond. That’s true.
Guess what? I didn’t know what to say either, especially in my selfish confusion and anger and heartbreak this shitty morning brought. Yet here I am at the end of something.
Something is a start.
They’d want that. And they’d smile at our keeping on with the loved thing we share.