I stopped doing public readings from my memoir, Divine Renovations, last fall. It was a rather abrupt shift, since I’d been doing readings and signings at least three or four times a month since March 2013.
Suddenly, I just realized it was time to move away, to step forward.
Divine Renovations tells the story of meeting my late husband, Ed Godleski, and then losing him to metastatic lung cancer eight years later. It is a very personal story, a raw story, and my reason for putting it out there was to help people cope with grief because I found it so very difficult. It was also a story I felt compelled to tell because I loved Ed so much.
The book was difficult to publish, on a personal level, as it reveals that I left my first husband after meeting Ed; Ed was the catalyst that shook me out of a long-term depression and gave me forward momentum. The book also shows that in the months immediately following Ed’s death, I relied heavily on prescription medicine – and Nyquil – to cope.
It was mortifying to put that information out in to the world, but I am a journalist, and I believe in the truth. I believe in telling the whole story, and well, those truths are part of my story.
During a reading last September in a private home, with about eight women who were all members of a book group, I got the distinct impression that I was being judged by them. Maybe this is because one of the women said she didn’t like that I took medication while caring for my grandson.
I remember wondering what else she didn’t like about me.
The next reading was in Amherst with a group of widows and widowers who were gathered together by the bereavement counselor at Hospice of the Fisher Home. This was the most impactful reading I did out of all of them.
There was a woman in the group, who, like me, had known her husband only a short time, and she felt her grief was not as valid as that of the others in her group who’d been married to the same person for a lifetime.
“I hadn’t planned on reading this passage,” I told her before reading her a few paragraphs from the prologue of my book, in which I state that I think people don’t understand my grief because I knew Ed for such a short time. “But I want you to hear it.”
She sobbed while I read, and afterwards said, “That’s the first time I have felt understood. I feel like you wrote those words just for me.”
I read other passages of the book, and there was a profound and moving discussion with the members of this bereavement group. We all took turns weeping. They asked me many questions. They said I inspired them. They said seeing how healthy and happy I was made them know they were going to be okay.
This experience made me feel good about having written the book. Clearly, I had helped these people – perhaps only in those moments – but I helped them nevertheless.
I decided that was a good place to end my book tour with such a solid feeling of accomplishment. I wanted to protect myself from being judged, but I also wanted to protect myself from grief. Each time I did a reading, it delivered me back into my pain, and I wanted to remove myself from it.
Ed is still a daily part of my life. I always keep thoughts of him close, and I continue to promote the book online, where it’s available as an ebook. But I have officially joined life. I focus on my children, my grandson, my boyfriend, my work, and I am writing a second book – a love story that’s a work of fiction.
This blog will now be a place where I write about life – children, love, good health and those things that make us smile or laugh and otherwise inspire us.
I’m looking forward to engaging in life.