Stories and Robb

It seems I have gone from one extreme to the other. Posting every day for a month and then just about managing once a week! When I finished NaBloPoMo I was pleased to think I’d have time to write other things I wanted to write, but I haven’t really. So, what have I been doing?

Reading!

I don’t think I’ve read this much since I was at University. Even then perhaps I didn’t quite get through as many books in one week as I have recently because a lot of them were a right old slog. In the last ten days I have read six books. Last week I read the Divergent trilogy. I also read a couple from the Twilight Saga and another random novel.

J and I have been doing a somewhat unusual, and perhaps more indulgent, advent this year. Instead of one chocolate a day, it’s been a book. It’s surprisingly exciting opening a new book every day (secondhand). They are all books I would love to read, though all the books I’ve read in the past week aren’t any that I’ve been bought!

I have really enjoyed these stories I’ve read and been fascinated by the author’s creations in terms of characters and relationship dynamics. It says a lot about a good story when you read young adult fiction as an adult and enjoy it. It is the story that keeps you reading, not flamboyant or poetic language or an original voice or style. Sometimes those books can be appreciated but a bit of work to get through.

It’s also interesting how absorbed one can get. I think most people find a gripping book somewhat addictive but lately, I think because of feeling detached from life because of my ever-present, ever-evolving grief, reading so much about other worlds perhaps exacerbates that detached feeling. Plus the sleep deprivation from reading into the night… (Sigh).

Good stories get me excited. We love stories and imagination, don’t we? Why is that? Interesting to ponder… Suggestions in comments?

Then there’s the link between imagination and memory… I find it fascinating to consider that each book I read sheds light on another human being’s perception of the world around them. The Divergent books included some powerful and insightful statements about fear and about grief…

“To me, grief is a devastating numbness, every sensation dulled.” p. 503, Allegient

“Noise and activity are the refuges of the bereaved and the guilty.” p. 107, Insurgent

“I keep finding myself stifled by the company of others and then crippled by loneliness when I leave them.” p. 495, Allegiant

“Half of bravery is perspective. The first time I did this, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Now, preparing to jump off a moving train is nothing, because I have done more difficult things in the past few weeks than most people will in a lifetime. And yet none of it compares to what I am about to do in the Dauntless compound. If I survive, I will undoubtedly go on to do far more difficult things than even that…” p. 458, Divergent (all from Kindle edition)

Yesterday was the anniversary of Robb’s death. I went to the crematorium and looked at the plaque on the wall in the memorial gardens. It said his full name, which doesn’t really correlate with who he was with its formal, grown-up tone. Nine years on… a new perspective: I had my beautiful daughter there with me and my beautiful niece, I have lost more, experienced a deeper, far-reaching grief. Yet I knew I’d survive it because I have done before. Nine years have passed and each time I have stood before that plaque I have felt different. It has gotten easier.

Losing my Dad has put things into perspective for me regarding Robb. I have realised that for a few years I didn’t really know how to remember him. When I first got married it felt inappropriate to put up art work he’d given me or keep keep a stash of photos etc etc. I expect it was an important thing to do, to not linger on a past relationship in any way and I didn’t have any desire to. But now, it feels like a tragedy to just ignore a chapter of my life. To not think of a person and remember who they were in all their uniqueness. The quote I have mentioned before from a writer that says we write stories because none of us wants to be forgotten struck a chord. Robb shouldn’t be forgotten.

I have a piece of artwork that Robb bought me up in our hallway. If I hadn’t liked it I wouldn’t have put it up, I didn’t need to. But I also didn’t need to keep it up in the loft. My friend painted it, a friend who I’m still close to and who knew Robb. When I look at the painting I generally think of her first. Or I don’t think of any association at all. Bizarre to describe but I feel content to have something associated with him up in my house, but ultimately it’s just a painting.

Yesterday, I engaged my imagination and my memory and thought about who he was: how he spoke, what he’d say, how he’d make others laugh and draw everyone’s attention with a natural charisma, how he played guitar and sang and cared about his appearance with an originality and flair, how he’d drive an old white beamer and put in a good sound system and wear driving gloves… Ha, how he’d loved Bob Dylan, like my Dad, how he would be so honest about his disappointments and struggles with his faith.

Nine years on and for what feels like the first time, I can freely think of all this and simply smile, with an edge of sadness… and then get on with my day.

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2 comments

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  1. Sandra

    I think we love stories because they hook into our emotions, we can identify with them, we draw the listener in with them. They can make us feel we belong, we are not alone, they take us on a journey and it doesn’t matter if that journey is true or make believe . Stories are hugely important and help us see life from a different perspective, they can make us laugh, cry and feel life is worth living even in the hardest of times. Stories can connect with our empathic side and help us feel compassion for others and ourselves. They can help us be kind to ourselves too. It is often the stories we remember long after the event itself. I use stories a lot in training to engage and capture the delegates emotions and imagination in hope that they will remember them and apply the feels/emotions that the story hooked up in them so that they can be/ react for good in any situation.

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