Thursday, February 14, 2013

Memoir Healed A Broken Heart

John and me on our wedding day.
Whenever people ask why I wrote my memoir, Again In a Heartbeat, my answer is the same.  If my story helps one person going through a similar journey, then I have done my job as a writer. 

Yet, truth be told, it is much more complex - and simple -  than that.

I also wrote about my husband, John Cavalieri, because I wanted to relive my days with him and hold him close again. Writing this memoir was truly a journey of the heart - my heart had been broken.  It came to life again by writing his story and mine.

Writing offers us the very special privilege of revisiting the past and making sense of it.  It also serves as a beacon of light for what is happening now and what is to come.  A memoir writing teacher of mine once said: "Memory itself is a combination of perception and selection which creates a 'truth' of its own." 
This is how I felt after writing Again In a Heartbeat.  I had finally found - 13 years after John's death - the pieces of my story with John that made so much fall into place  . . . including the wonderful discovery that the love of a good man had made me a better and more confident woman. 

Ours wasn't a perfect marriage - like any marriage - it had ups and downs. Then cancer tested us almost beyond human endurance.  Yet we had a special bond and alchemy that neither disease nor death could destroy. 

As John wrote about me in his memoir, Cancer Versus Honor:

"Susan was the missing piece to my personality.  Where I was cautious, she was carefree.  Where I was lacking in knowledge, she had the answers.  We seemed to complement each other in every way.  But, most of all, I think that we genuinely liked each other.  All that she asked of me was acceptance and support.  I was able to provide those traits in abundance.  And so out of this grew our love.  As my wife said to me a year after we were married,  'You are the only man in my life who has always been there for me.  That's why I love you.'"

And so I offer to you as I did last Valentine's Day, Again In a Heartbeat, free to Kindle users beginning Saturday, Feb. 16 and running through Monday, Feb. 18.

I hope you enjoy John's and my story.  For since John was a writer and left behind a 365-page memoir, I had his own words to "listen" to and use in my book.  It often felt as if together, he and I wrote Again In a Heartbeat


kathleen pooler said...

Susan, This is so beautiful. I had no idea John was a writer, too. What a gift that you have his words and feel like you have written your memoir together. It is a testimony to the power of memoir to not only heal a broken heart but also to keep a loved one alive in our heart.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Kathy, It is true. I think it was Lisa Dale Norton this week who posted that memoir writing can change the world. It is very true. As each of us writes our story, heals from our pain and shares our journey, we become healthier people and draw together in community. And, yes, John was a writer, although never published. He received a masters degree in English from Villanova University and taught English. . . and he was an avid reader. The book he wrote, also unpublished, has been a true source of comfort to me. His words leap off the pages and bring back many memories . . . this is the power and the legacy of memoir, as you well know. A great gift to leave behind for loved ones.