writing

At the conference

Small talk in the conference room while waiting for the readings to begin.

“Are you a writer?”

“Are you reading?”

“How long have you been writing?”

“Are you published or working on projects for publication?”

I ask and I answer roughly the same questions over and over and I feel so out of place. One moment I am a writer, discussing her craft. The next I am a grieving mother, cloaking her grief in practiced words.

The small talk seems so out of place given what I am about to do. I’m having second thoughts. Third thoughts. I want to flee and soon have more reasons to leave than to stay.

It’s too soon.

Why did I ever think I could do this?

Or even should do this?

And these selections . . .

My name is called and I walk to the podium. I am no longer author or mother. I am an observer. I watch myself walk. I hear myself introduce what I am about to read. I listen to two paragraphs of For a moment I forget and from my vantage point, my voice sounds strong. But then John flips on the radio and I am back in the car on the highway in the middle of the night sinking under the weight of my son’s death.

My voice quivers and breaks as the tears begin to sting my eyes. I fight for control and find it at the start of the next selection. We are a happy family starts off rather impersonal. It is a simple recounting of a day. I am able to regain my distance from the text and with that my composure. But then there’s Tiggy, sitting in his car down by the garden. My voice is almost pleading as I sketch out a little picture of life with my little boy and I feel the tears begin to flow as the story returns to the seed catalogs, allowing me just enough distance to fight my way through.

I end with The amazing thing about love, though the words have blurred and I have to stop for them to clear. I am met with total silence as I collect my papers and return to my seat, avoiding eye contact. Applause starts as I find my row but it sounds so far away and it takes me most of the next person’s reading just to catch my breath.

I did it. I’m not sure what that means. If it was good, or silly or healthy or mad. But I did it.

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0 thoughts on “At the conference

  1. Thanks, you guys. It was so hard, and so many times I couldn’t even remember why I was there and felt like I did when I first got the information about the conference in the mail, “Maybe next year.”
    Dana recently posted…At the conferenceMy Profile

  2. dana, WHY can’t i read your posts without crying? these tears are of triumph for you, though, because i know how hard it must have been and i’m so proud of you for reading something that is still raw in so many ways. what a wonderful selection you chose. you get a standing ovation from me!
    brynn recently posted…Hear Ye- Hear Ye! Princess Zoras Turning 3!My Profile

  3. Good for you, Dana! That was a big step to take right now!

    As I read your description of walking up to speak and what it felt like, you perfectly described the couple of public speaking engagements I’ve done in recent months. My topics weren’t even close to what you had to read, but it really does feel like an outer body experience. Like you are watching yourself. And then can’t remember a single thing you’ve said once you are done. Now I don’t feel so crazy 😉

    Blessings,
    Tammy ~@~
    Tammy recently posted…forgiving AprilMy Profile

  4. Dana,
    You’re honoring Tiggy’s memory by continuing to live, in every way. Your grief is a part of your writing. Amazing job!

    Praying for all of you,

  5. So proud of you for doing that! You never know who you may have touched or what God can do with your courage in sharing your story. I believe God will use your pain in a powerful way, even if you never know the full extent to which Tiggy’s story and your family’s story touches others.

  6. It was a beautiful thing you did. You shared Tiggy with the rest of the world, just as you do here. It helps people heal, helps people live more fully, helps people remember what’s important. You opened your soul to the people there that day and that is a priviledge. You showed people that even in pain, life can go on! (Hug)

  7. Oh, Dana… I’ve been waiting for this post. I prayed that you would find the courage to share your writings about the last few months. Well done sweet one! You are the encouragement to all of us. You have shown us the raw side of loss, grieving, hope, and healing. Thank you.

    Oh I am so thrilled you did it. Remember, this is just another step to healing. Hoping you find the time to have a cup of tea and enjoy this beautiful spring day. 🙂

  8. I am sooo proud of you! That had to be so frightening and so intence.

    You have no idea how much you just opened a door to healing, even if it’s just a little.

    Though I have never been in a situation such as yours, I have lived with many.

    Please take comfort in knowing just how many people are praying and pulling from you on this side of the computer.

    God Bless you and yours,
    Nikki
    Nikki recently posted…FinallyMy Profile

  9. Wow, Dana. I, too, am in complete awe of you. You are so strong and it’s obvious how full of love your heart is, even if it’s wounded in Tiggy’s absence. I applaud you for being able to share yourself.

  10. You did it. You DID it.
    Please know and trust and believe – sharing your vulnerable heart & story impacted lives, and will impact families of those listeners, just as it has impacted your readers’ families here…
    mine is evidence.

    My children thank you.
    I thank you.
    I thank God for your words.
    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight recently posted…Nitty-Gritty ForgivenessMy Profile

  11. Dana- I am also amazed by your strength. I know the Lord is carrying you. And I am so amazed at how strong you are for your children through the midst of this pain you are enduring. This was another step for you in that process, and I am proud of you for doing it. May God continue to help you daily. Much love, Cara

  12. It takes a lot of courage to speak out loud the words written from the depths of your heart.

    A few months ago, I gave my testimony in front of my church congregation. It was hard and I didn’t want to do it… but I obeyed and God helped me to overcome my fear and showed me that He would give me the right words at the right time. I know that He was preparing me for speaking at the Haven of Hope Retreat– and I am so thankful He did!

    Whether for them or for you, God did not waste your words in front of those writers, Dana. He has a plan and purpose… and I pray that He will bless you abundantly and give you a measure of comfort and healing each time you tell your story, be it with the written word or the spoken word.
    MarshaMarshaMarsha recently posted…my baby sisters having a baby!My Profile

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