At the beginning of March, a friend of mine (who is 86) reached out and asked me if I would help her write a speech for her women’s group. It was to be a 20 minute speech on who she is and, if done well, she believed could be her eulogy.
This was not the first time a friend reached out to me and asked if I would help prepare words for family and friends post mortem. It is one of the most humbling and exciting things to be asked to do. This type of writing, I just love. I just love.
My friend and I made plans the week after to spend a morning at her breakfast table. She had some thoughts already prepared and we talked for hours about World War II train rides, being a teenager in the 50’s and the unfolding of her rich, beautiful life.
I would ask her questions and offer validating sentences and sometimes get an “exactly” and those words would go down as pieces in the puzzle board. Sometimes, she would reply with a wondering and an uncertain smile and I would shoo my question to the side. A tangent.
There were multiple times during the interview when we would both tear up. It felt so important to be listening to her talk about her life. It felt so important to be feeling certain ways and channeling that onto paper as notes and arrows to other words in what would become my first sketch of her life in an alphabetical manner.
I reflect on this experience today on the blog because, as I commit to my Chief Strategist role, I realize stepping into grief and exploring the unfolding is a main aspect of my writing life. Incorporating the way the heart and words work together in reflection and the potency of the art in a meaningful speech is evident in all of the favorite things I have written. Solid reporting + an artful bridge + a full circle nod that brings the whole moment peace and resolution.
Storytelling, for me, feels most right when performing feels as if it could make me cry. I might love crying when I perform as much as I love the poise of breath and steadiness of spirit that I can feel getting me through a performance without a break. Either way, going there is my sweet spot.
In my writing life, I am watching for the marriage between the poetry and fiction, Words that Rhyme & Lullabies, and the non fiction – mental health – “hey this is a way to look at this” writing I am doing in workshop and worksheet form. I believe this courtship is rooted in a willingness to feel.
Sunset Speeches bring together the art of painting a picture with the deep, thoughtful fishing out the right words in respect to one person. It’s lovely. When I write rhymes and poetry, my process very much looks for what is common and for mysterious entry points for a connected yet individual interpretation. What makes these two art forms similar, I feel, is something to really pay attention to: feel feel feel. Emote.
More on my interview with Nancy and how the speech was put together (planes! California sun!) tomorrow…
I hear the house stirring above me and so I must emerge from the cave, kiss goodbyes for the day and get the dogs out for a nice, long walk.