It’s been a lifetime since we talked. I still think of you. I can still hear the smile in your voice and the grit in your silence. Miles and years apart, you are with me.
I am teaching now.
My students are adults. All ages. Some are immigrants to this country, like your husband.
Writing is working its magic on them. Revealing and healing. Tearing down walls and building confidence. It’s beautiful.
Last week, a student shared her work for the first time ever. Her body was restless in her chair, waiting for her chance. But her voice had the flatness of someone strangling their vocal cords from the inside.
Her story was simple and full of power. Everyone in the class seemed to hold their breath. The intimacy in the room was like a live current–powerful and dangerous.
The moment she finished, she jumped out of her chair. “I have to take a walk.”
I took her hand as she passed me. “Well done. Before you go,” I took a deep breath, inviting her to mimic me.
I knew exactly what was happening. That sensation when your heart pounds so hard you can hardly move, but your skin crawls as if all the bugs, thousands, millions of them, white eyeless worm mouths, hiding sharp-hooks, bites, skittering, ticking hairs of legs, all inside you, chewing their way out. Run! Find the smallest, darkest closet, no, no…
Until someone catches your hand. Reminds you where you are.
When you are.
She inhaled again, a little more slowly.
“Can you sit for a minute?” I asked.
“If we read it again, it will feel different.”
“I can’t,” breathy and panicked.
“May I read it for you?”
She didn’t answer immediately. The rule in the class is you can always say no. “Yes. That’d be ok.”
So much trust! I knew it was an honor to read her words aloud again. I read her story as if they were my words, my story.
And of course, they were.
She nodded, telling me to go on.
My voice. Her words.
When I finished the silence in the room felt different. The storm had passed. We’d survived. Together. Now there were smiles, appreciative murmurs.
She squeezed my hand.
A rush of self-awareness made my head light. I was in your place. This time, I was the healer.
And still, again, I was being healed.
Was that how it was for you?
It makes me happy to think so.
You are still with me.
I send my