Writing in the margins

March 31, 2011

Have you ever felt like you’ve scribbled so randomly in the Book of Life that there’s no place left to write except in the margins?

I have scribbled so much over the years. When I step back and look, I’m chagrined. The red ink (what I owe) seems to overpower the black (what I’ve given). So many complaints, so much repining, so much dissatisfaction – a long, seemingly endless parade of red entries. So much refusal to understand that what we write in red repays us in black if we apply it correctly. Rather like a double-entry ledger system, as a matter of fact.

The week I spent dying of a “cardiac event” (yes, I still refuse to call it anything else) in 2006 should have been a lesson to me. I was so ill. I knew I was dying and I would have died if my kids hadn’t called 911 and if the EMTs hadn’t seen what the staff in the local ER had been so blind to for six days. But even my anger at the ER staff fades when I consider the epiphany I faced during that endless week. Obviously, there was a wonderful lesson to be learned from that experience. Those six painful, horrible days eventually made me wish I’d die and get it over with (I’m such a procrastinator when it comes to dying.), but they also reminded me of one of life’s great rules about red vs. black ink.

During that time, every moment that I could muster the strength, I pulled out the journals I’d filled with my innermost thoughts over the preceding twenty years – and I tore out page after page. I realized then that I didn’t want my kids to stumble on the journals after I was dead and read about my unhappiness and fear and heartbreak. I didn’t want them to think for one minute that I had spent my adult life in misery. That was very far from the truth, even though I’d written page after page after page of pain. (Metaphorical red ink.) I only wanted them to know that I was happy to be given this life and the many loves and experiences that enriched it.

But apparently I didn’t learn my lesson well enough. Even though the journal pages of the past five years are mostly black, there’s still that damned red ink. The dissatisfaction. The refusal to understand that all darkness leads to light.

And now I look at my own personal Book of Life and I’m ashamed. I’d erase the red and replace it with black, but unfortunately that’s not possible. So now I’m left with the margins to scribble in. What will I write there? What will I write to let everyone, including myself, know that my life has been wonderful, amazing, exciting and marvelous?

Maybe I’ll take a page from Dodie Smith and write in the margins: I love you, I love you, I love you.

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6 Responses to “Writing in the margins”

  1. John Drake Says:

    Ahh Ha, Another one that had me believing it
    was a true story. Fascinating realism !!!
    You and that Sally gal today write similarly !!
    I’m not writing right now, just projecting English
    lessons for the few enthusiastic local folk.
    hugs john


  2. John, this totally IS a true story. True that I almost died from cardiomyopathy in 2006…totally true that I struggle to remember that for every bad day there are two good ones.

    You need to write more because I miss it! I love your dog stories.

  3. Mickey Mills Says:

    I don’t see no stinkin’ red ink!!

    I see gold stars and pink hearts.

    I love, love, love, this blog!!


  4. I thought I was the only one who saw pink hearts and gold stars. ❤ ❤ ❤

  5. Rose S Says:

    Not only do I write in the margins, Sis, but also in the spaces in between.
    I remember how we almost lost you – and how, during that time, your little “cardiac event” caused a great many of us to examine our lives. You wrote then of filling every day your life with love and joy, and you’ve done an amazingly good job of it!
    So, a little red ink is alright – try to think of it as a kind of highlighter. Because truthfully, you can’t fully appreciate the black pages without a little red ink.

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