A dear family friend recently passed away after a battle with cancer. This man mentored my husband for the last twenty years and gave him a job with a terrific company where he is appreciated and has the freedom to make family a top priority. Sometime soon, I hope to be emotionally ready to sit down and write this man’s widow a letter, letting her know just how much her husband meant to us.
Wrestling with what to say has got me thinking about other letters and personal notes I’ve written over the years. For instance, the poems I wrote for each of my brothers and read on their wedding days, the poem I wrote and read at my best friend’s wedding and the letter I wrote a friend when her infant son passed away suddenly. And I’ve been thinking about the reactions each of those things evoked.
I’ve also been remembering the essay I wrote about getting to speak with Rose Keller, a 9-11 widow whose husband’s name is on the memorial bracelet I wear each September. She was a complete stranger to me and our being able to connect came about because of some amazing and serendipitous events. Even though I was never able to sell the piece, the fact Rose called me to tell me how much it meant to her and that she was saving it to share with her children someday meant more to me than any check from a magazine ever could have.
I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 12 years now. Often times, I am guilty of getting caught up with the “product” I’m creating. I get stressed out about the publishing end of things or frustrated when (like the last few weeks) I just can’t seem to make any headway on my current book. And I forget the simple truth about this gift I’ve been given:
Sometimes, our best and most important works are the ones with the smallest audiences.