Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Fiction To Heal: When A Parent Suffers A Life-Changing Illness

This post is about how writing can heal. Writing as therapy for tough times. I also share a quick 298-word piece of Micro Fiction that helped me deal with an emotional situation I'm in the midst of now.

If any of this interests you, read on.

One of the benefits of being a writer is that you can rely on the cathartic nature of writing when confronted with life's challenges. Case in point. One of my parents was struck by a life-altering illness.

If you have ever experienced similar situations, you know how challenging that is: a loved one has a stroke, heart attack, is diagnosed with cancer, is the victim of a horrible car crash. You are the one who has to pick up the pieces. In the case of a son or daughter who now must care for a parent, the transition is emotionally overwhelming. Think role reversal.

As a writer, I can release some of that emotional steam by telling stories. The other day I pounded out the micro fiction story below. I say pounded out as if it took a lot of effort. But it didn't. Because I was feeling so many emotions, the story flowed out. I dare say it was nearly effortless.

Now... it may not be the best example of fiction. That's OK, though. It served its purpose for me. I dealt with my feelings. After writing it, I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. So, I share this to those new to writing, or anyone dealing with grief as an example.

Writing can help you heal - even in a small, temporary way. If you have had the same therapeutic experience through writing, please feel free to share it by messaging me or commenting below. If you're curious about trying writing to help you heal, but don't know where to start, message me, too.

Here's the story I wrote. Although I was dealing with a very real situation, this story is fiction:

Into the Fire
By Pedro Ramirez III
This was it. Love Street, where I almost died 30 years ago.
The tears welled. I placed the truck in park.
"Dad, why we stopping?" My son craned over the dashboard. "I don't see the hospital."
I was about his age when it happened. Can't help thinking my son wouldn't be sitting here if they'd left me on the kitchen floor. They wouldn't let him inside the house. He pushed, pulled, powered through them to get to me. I thought he could do anything.
"We're almost there, mijo." Fewer words to control the tears.
"Where are we?" my son asked.
"Daddy used to live here," I told him.
"Where?" He scanned the street.
The neighborhood had changed. The corner store was boarded up. An auto repair shop was occupying another corner lot. A third corner lost was vacant with sun-scorched, yellow grass. It had been vacant back then, too.
"I don't see a house."
"It used to be there." I pointed across him out the passenger window to two squatty, city lots lined by curb cuts and three tired trees.
"There's nothing there," my son said.
"Grandpa's and grandma's house used to be there," I explained, "before it burned down."
"It caught fire?! Were you inside?"
"Yes, mijo. I was." The tears were welling again. "Grandpa carried me out."
"Were you scared?" he asked.
"Yes…Yes, I am."
A tear fell. I wiped before my son saw.
"C'mon, let's go get grandpa," I said.
I took the truck out of park, inching it three long blocks to the hospital. It felt like 30 blocks, 30 years away.
"Grandpa is gonna live with us?"
"Yes, mijo."
The rest of them want to leave him. Too heavy a burden. But, I'll be damned if they'll keep me from taking him out.

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