I went to bed and woke up with this deep sense of urgency to write—this longing and yearning to translate the inner language of my soul. Yet I know not where to begin.
I tell my students that the writing well must be primed. Sometimes you have to stand and pump the handle many times before the water begins to trickle from the spigot. Yesterday, I told the class you must write every day in order to keep your writing muscles strong and toned. (I am mixing metaphors, sorry). I haven’t followed my own instructions, and my muscles have weakened. It doesn’t take long for them to atrophy or for the pump handle to become rusty.
In class a student shared that he had a hundred ideas about what to write, but didn’t know where to begin. I am not sure where to begin either. I have made notes for months, but the stories have remained unwritten. Ideas have floated without anchors; they have waited patiently to be moored on the screen.
I must simply prime the pump.
One day at work one of our lovely, regular patrons came in to pick up her books. She stood and chatted with us, and I noticed a locket she was wearing. It was a large gold locket just a little bigger than a silver dollar. The locket was inscribed, but the printing was far too small to be just simply a date or a mere sentiment.
I asked questions.
The locket was a gift from her husband. He had recently passed away, and I was afraid I was invading a sensitive place, but she kept sharing. Her husband had written her a love letter, and to ensure its preservation he had it engraved on this locket that she now wore around her neck.
As she shared her story she held the locket in her hand and rubbed her thumb over its front and back—a gesture, I am sure, she wasn’t aware of and repeated often.
She smiled and said, “We were married for 52 years, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I miss him terribly.” There was no self-pity, no despondency, and no regret in her voice. Just matter-of-fact statements. She picked up her bag of reading materials and walked away.
I was left in tears.
How often do we voice our love to those we hold the closest and dearest? How often do we take the time to ensure that they will know this even if we are gone? What measures do we take to make sure they have some token, some symbol, and some memento so that they might remember?
This precious lady was so pleased to share her story, and in sharing she kept her own memories alive. In telling me the story of her locket she was able to relive and remember all the circumstances and events surrounding this gift.
I am hoping that for a brief moment she felt him near. Perhaps for a small increment of time she was able to see him and hear his voice reading the words etched on the face of the disk she wore around her neck.
I have the feeling the words were not eloquent—I am sure they were not Shakespearian or Browning sonnets, but they were his words and his declaration of love for her.
Often we don’t say something to someone for fear of our words being inadequate or concern for their lack of eloquency. We hesitate because we don’t want to be misunderstood or we are concerned we won’t be understood at all. These are not adequate or acceptable reasons for silence.
The heart has a way of learning how to translate and interpret.
This precious woman had translated her husband’s words. They have been a solace and a balm in his absence.
John Mayer sings, “Say what you need to say.”
As I held that locket in my hand—I realized this wonderful woman’s husband had said what he needed to say.