I've often talked about the healing power of writing, but no more has the truth of this hit home than now. On June 3 I lost my brother Andy Weidener to cancer. It came as a terrible shock to everyone due to how swiftly the disease moved and took him from us. Yet, his suffering was alleviated quickly and compassionately by palliative sedation through hospice. For this, everyone is eternally grateful.
In many ways it is a relief to know how modern medicine enables us to transition from this world to the next without undue anxiety and prolonged pain. Now Andy's suffering is over, but the grief has just begun for those he leaves behind - a beautiful, loving wife, two devoted daughters who adored him, many admiring friends . . . and me, Andy's "little sister Susie," seven years younger, who lost her only sibling.
I will always be grateful for having my writing at a time like this. Writing has saved my life in so many ways that it is difficult to enumerate here, but by putting into words the defining moments of our lives - the "passages" so to speak of falling in love, the birth of a child, countered with separation, loss and death - there eventually comes peace.
What a joy it is to know that someday - not now - but in the future, I can write about Andy and "relive" our time together; the day I was born and he gave me a teddy bear which I still have, the night he and his fraternity brother escorted me and my best friend to the senior prom and kept everyone guessing who those handsome older men were . . . the morning he hugged his wife, his parents and me and then straightened his shoulders and bravely boarded that plane to serve in Vietnam.
After many years of grieving, I was able to put into perspective my husband's untimely death from cancer in my memoir Again in a Heartbeat. I wrote about falling in love with John, losing him, and then coming to terms with the knowledge that in the end I needed to take Susan in my arms, love her and move on.
For those of us who are writers, we are blessed with the gift of writing as a source of strength, understanding and realization that there is a wider life out there. Our time here is fleeting. Our writing lasts and is our legacy.
So now it is back to the work of writing, coaching others to write and sharing our stories in the Circle. I look forward to many, many more years of this "moveable feast" . . . of stories and people casting each other the "lifeline" that is writing.