Legacy Writing 365:365


“The Family Detectives,” from Austin Kleon‘s book Newspaper Blackout. Copyright Austin Kleon, 2010.

Look at the title of my post. I made it! I committed to doing this for 2012, and I finished it. I had no idea what I was taking on when I chose to delve into my own and my mother’s (and sometimes Lynne’s and other family members’) photo archives and write the memories the pictures inspired. Mostly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could write every day, because I haven’t written anything substantive since finishing A Coventry Wedding just after my mother died in 2008.

I did not write every day, though I did end up with a legacy writing post for every day.

First, I could never have imagined as the year began the blow that would strike my family in April with Aaron’s death. Aaron had always been fascinated by our family’s history–from the mysteries that he, his father before him, and my mother before them, could find by exploring genealogy–a study that is also a part of his Mormon roots. When Aaron visited The Compound in March, we talked about so many things. He persuaded me to sign up at ancestry.com so we could share information. I made him register for selective service, since I’d had no idea up until then that every male is supposed to when he turns eighteen, even though there’s no draft. That whole process cracked us up, and in a comment he left on some later post in this blog, he promised not to tell his mom I made him join the Army. (I didn’t, Lisa!)

Aaron also loved to listen to our family stories, even if he’d heard them before. So when I decided to do the legacy writing, I acknowledged that it was with hope that one day these stories and memories might mean something to my nephews and nieces, and to their children. I wasn’t worried that I might violate anyone’s privacy: I’ve long walked the line in this blog between talking about the people and events in my life and revealing too much. In some ways, that came back to bite me when some readers told me they couldn’t relate to my family because their own experiences were much sadder and seemed less worthy of recounting. My family and friends have never been exempt from pain and loss, but I don’t exploit those things here to get readers or attention. I try to provide a whole picture, and despite deaths and disappointments, I’m not an unhappy person. Even when I write about sad things, sad times, I feel so fortunate for the amazing journey this life has been and for the people who’ve been on that journey with me.

What to do, then, when catastrophe strikes, when a loss is as shocking and as painful as Aaron’s? My first impulse was to shut down this blog completely. I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t want to talk about my family. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted us to gather in a circle and fend off all comers and hurt and heal together. But for me, writing is how I cope. The love I share with my family and my friends is the source of much of my strength. These two things together–art and love–have always been part of how I heal and move forward.

After a few days to breathe, I began to write my way back. I tried very hard not to share anything that would cause any more grief to those who love and lost Aaron. And I continue(d) to try every day to celebrate him, and the wonderful people I know, both in my daily life and in the words I write.

Among the gifts that keep me balanced are the dogs, and Rex always, always made me laugh. His loss and how it would impact us all is another thing I never dreamed would be part of 2012. We also lost the friendship of someone we loved and valued, and that continues to be one of the challenges the year brought us.

But those griefs are not all of our year. We still have friends. We still have family. We still have dogs. There are still children laughing in our lives–and more children to come. There are weddings to be planned, birthdays to celebrate, anniversaries to recognize. There are jobs that make us grateful, our health to cherish. There are books left to edit and write and read. There will be more art.

Another thing that made the legacy writing project difficult is that any writing takes energy. Sometimes it was the act of writing. Sometimes it was looking at photos and just planning what to write. There were times when memories caused me such a sense of loss that I’d put my head on my desk and cry for the people I missed. I don’t live in the past–I never have–so a year of looking back could be draining. I’d skip a day or two and then catch up. It was also frustrating when writing the past seemed to steal my ability to talk about the here and now, which is where my mind and heart and soul actually do live.

I haven’t formulated a project for the coming year. I’m going to try to live as much in the moment as possible, and share whatever those moments compel me to write in my blog. I’ve received a lot of gifts and shared a lot of conversations that I believe will give me plenty to think and talk about. I hope you’ll stick around. I thank you very much for being with me for the past year. In memory of 2012, I’ve collected photos in the video below.

Happy new year to you all. I hope you receive all good things in abundance.

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30 Responses to Legacy Writing 365:365

  1. Rhonda says:

    You gave me my last cry of 2012. Wonderful post and video.

  2. David (aka Gavin) says:

    Happy New Year!

    When I see your photos, I think, “I would love to be surrounded by dogs!!!! They’re so adorable!” I’m not sure how I’d do though, and I don’t want to do badly, and I’m not even considering health issues.

    Also, that second picture of Kimberly is SO GREAT. I wonder if she’s seen it? She needs to make it her new Facebook photo, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the year of memories. :)

    • Becky says:

      Thank YOU. For all your kind words and everything else. If you need some dog energy but can’t commit to adopting one, spend some time dog walking and petting at shelters or on dog adoption days. They need friends as well as homes.

  3. Aunt Aberta says:

    Happy New Year to you – hope 2013 is filled with great health, much happiness and many meaningful moments!

  4. Lynn F says:

    Job well done. I thank you for all the posts you entered this past year. It is a wonderful tribute to the people and things that you love and cherish. I wish everyone a happy New Year with love and peace.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you, Lynn, for continuing to read and comment. It’s always nice to hear from you. Happy new year to you and yours!

  5. Robert Edler says:

    A year well down! I knew you could achieve it. Peace, love, hope and happiness in the new year.

  6. 'Nathan says:

    You are – and continue to be – one of the measurements I use to try and lead the kind of life I want to live. Wonderful post. Wonderful video.

    I’m going to attempt a 365 of my own this year – a story a day. Nothing as impressive or as wonderful as your amazing year of memories and photographs.

    Your package arrived yesterday. Thank you.

    • Becky says:

      You’re welcome, and thank YOU, for your words and for being one of the most positive and affirming gifts in my life. =)

      Good luck with your 365!

  7. Helen says:

    You have been a part of my day, every day, for the past two years through Poetry and through Legacy. Sometimes I checked more than once to see if you were “there” with something I might have missed. You shared your soul, and I tried to be mindful and care for it gently as I read your words. Thank you for the energy you brought to my life, for the connectedness, the friendship, the window. Thank you for you.

    I look forward to new musings.

    • Becky says:

      Anything I might have shared has been returned many times over by you because of your kindness and insights. Thank you!

  8. ablueskyboy says:

    More than words, I have spent a number of years following the blog(s) of some I capriciously met via someone I capriciously met via someone else I capriciously met via livejournal. I have enjoyed learning about the past and the photography that came with it. Like the fridge poetry and the doll versions of Project Runway, books worth reading :). I look forward to 2013, even if Mayans may have been right about the change of an era, well, at least from my perspective.

    A few years ago, I decided in my lj that I would only write (if time) if I felt I wasn’t merely venting out bad karma, Diamonds and Death alike. I’ve found that I’ve also reduced writing down some of the dreams I’ve had while apparently sleeping in this world. Some were rather amusing, others more symbolic such as the move the 3-seater park bench by lifting it over cubical walls instead of just down the hallway.

    Wishing all of you happiness for 2013.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you–I hope you have a great 2013, too. Thanks for always being here and reading, and for those times you share yourself on your LJ.

  9. Mark says:

    I know my presence here has been somewhat patchy this year, but I do enjoy catching up with your blog and the opportunity to share this window on your life. I was wondering what the project for 2013 would be, but perhaps, after two consecutive projects, this year will be less structured? Maybe it won’t – it’s all part of the adventure! Buon Anno, Becky – I hope this year brings you much happiness.

    • Becky says:

      Thank you very much, and the same to you. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I always appreciate it! Now–on to a better 2013 for us all!

  10. Lynne says:

    Well done, my friend. Thank you for everything you put in to it.

    WRITE, WRITE and WRITE more. You are too talented not to.

  11. Lindsey says:

    *sniff* 2013 is going to be AMAZING. And you deserve MAD PROPS for the Legacy Writing. No way could I have stuck with that. And so glad we could be a part of it.

    Love you!

  12. Dawn Storey says:

    Congratulations on a year of Legacy Writing, from all sorts of perspectives – the fulfillment of a goal, the recording of memories, the sharing of and with others. You continue to inspire me in so many ways.

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