Why Do We Write?

Reblogged from September 16, 2012

I attended the book signing this past August. Farther Along, written by my friend and mentor, Carol Henderson, which tells the stories of thirteen mothers (she is one of them), a bakers dozen as Carol points out, who had lost children at various ages.

I was prepared to cry. I don’t do well with death of children, even adult children. Children shouldn’t die before their parents. Maybe that’s why I choose geriatrics as my specialty. Old folks die. It’s expected. No surprises. I can deal with that.

I teared up but didn’t cry and was somewhat unprepared for the humor, serenity, and lack of self-pity as the six mothers read sections from the book. But then ten years had passed since the women came together under Carol’s guidance and direction. Certainly bereavement takes time to absorb, rant and rage against, come to terms and eventually accept the grievous loss that will never be forgotten until one’s dying day.

How fortunate the women found each other and Carol. Writing their stories seems to have brought them to a better place than they would be if they hadn’t immersed themselves in writing.

Why did these women write?

Carol says in her book:

“Writing about deep and traumatic matters, as many studies now confirm, is good for our physical health. Reflective writing actually lowers pulse and blood pressure, increases T-cell production, and boosts the immune system. Writing can help us cope with chronic conditions like physical pain—and the loss of health, of dreams, and, yes, of children.”

We all write for different reasons. I am haunted by my patients. They walk around in my memory and defy me to ignore them. I need to tell their stories.

“Why do we write? To make suffering endurable. To make evil intelligible. To make justice desirable and . . . to make love possible”― Roger Rosenblatt, Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing

Why do you write?

Pandemic: A Personal View

Spanish Influenza 1918: What we must learn

Reblogged from Farther Along, April 5, 2020 by Dottye Law Curtin (also published in the Winston-Salem Journal, Saturday, April 4, 2020)

Farther Along

Cora Belle Cora Belle Cobbler Law

I have had pandemic on my mind since last April. I can assure you that I am not a prophet or clairvoyant. The reason is quite personal: my grandmother died in the Great Spanish Influenza pandemic in October 1918.

My father had told me his mother died when he was only 5 years old; she was in her 30s. But he never told me how she died and I never asked. But last April I begin doing ancestry research and discovered the cause of her death. Having learned how she died, I continued to wonder about the circumstances in her family and her community in 1918.

Actually, I have been mourning the loss of a relationship I might have had with my grandmother. And imagine my surprise when I found out during that search that her birthplace and home were in Westfield, NC – the place…

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