It had been a long week away from my kids, I'd been to three states to support different business projects and frankly, I was tired. Even so, time for a single mother of two, with a full time job that involves crazy travel - well- it's a precious commodity.
I had four hours more on that plane ride home, so I pulled out my laptop, and opened up the document that held about five very rough chapters of a story I'd been working on, here and there,for about a year. I liked that story, and it was kind of evolving into something interesting. I asked for a cup of coffee and settled in, reading the last few pages I'd written more than a month before so I would know where to pick up.
That's when I heard the pilot's voice over the speaker system."Well folks, he said, we're just about somewhere over Pittsburgh, then we'll turn south to....." I didn't hear the rest. I heard Pittsburgh. My hometown that I'd left when I was 21 and never moved back. For a million reasons. And just like that, memory took the wheel and so many of those reasons flooded my brain. I stared out the window, above the clouds and imagined the landscape below. And then one of those memories started to make my jaw ache and my throat tense as I tried to hold back the tears. And in my mind, I heard my own voice speak these words;
"I don't know where Drew is buried".
I sat with that a minute. And without really thinking, I closed the open document on my laptop, and opened a new one. And the words I typed without any effort were what became the title of my first book, 'Forgetting Andrew'.
That book would take more than six years of writing, stopping, writing, stopping and then finally starting again when suddenly those two kids were grown and out of the house. When I'd moved thousands of miles across the ocean to live and work in London.When all of the things that had kept me from finishing that story had been pushed and pulled out of the way. When all that was left was love, and memory.
The story, because it is based on my actual experiences, wrote itself, as they say. I chose a fictional framework because there were elements that appeared to develop organically in the story that I felt belonged there. I like to call this book a work of 'mostly true fiction'. And since it is my book, I can call it anything I want. Call it 'poetic license' if you like.
It took me a long time to realize that each of us is the only true author of our own life. And thus, the story of that life. The actual work of writing for me is a way to let go of stories that lived far too long inside my heart, and the key to healing so much of the heartache that had followed me. The words set me free to live again, to write again, and to design the next chapter of my life. I wonder if that will turn into another story I'll want to write. You never know, but I sure hope so.