Grief is strange.
It has a funny way of reminding you, at seemingly the worst possible moments, that it’s not completely gone. That it will never be gone. That with every anniversary that passes, that dull ache will return — even just for a moment — and suddenly it will feel like no time has passed at all.
I told this story in a Project for Awesome video a few years ago — maybe one reason I feel so weary and shaken as I type this. I just find it so unbelievable that five years later it still hurts that he’s not here.
I’m not sure I would have become a writer professionally if it weren’t for my high school creative writing teacher. He was my mentor. He made me believe I could write for real because he genuinely believed I could.
Imagine being 17 years old and having someone tell you you’re going to make it and mean it. That’s life-changing. Imagine waking up every morning and being excited to write because you knew one day you’d be able to not only dedicate a book to this person, but you’d be able to hand them a signed hardcover copy in person and thank them for being so kind and inspiring.
Imagine waking up one morning and being told that person is gone forever.
What do you do when the person who believed in you goes away? You get up. You keep trying. Maybe one day you actually do all the things they said you would. But not right away. Because first you have to fal apart, and get mad at everything, and cry so hard you lose your voice. Twice.
The thing is, through all this, the only thing you want is to say all the things you never said. Like “I’m sorry for not responding to your emails” and “I’m sorry I never went back home to visit” and “thank you.”
You figure out how to go on anyway. You figure out how to write through the pain. You remember how much they believed in you, and that fire just keeps burning inside you for years. Hopefully for decades.
But you never forget. You never stop thanking them, in your heart, for everything.
Every day I wish I could say thank you to him. I can’t.
So if you do have someone in your life who supports your creative efforts — in big or small ways — tell them how much it means to you. TELL THEM HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU.
And if you have yet to find that person … remember that even when there’s someone there who believes in you, you have to believe in you too. You have to believe your work is worth it. Because there won’t always be someone. All you’ll have left then is you.
Hold on to those who care. And never forget to keep going even when it feels like you’re on your own.
You write for a reason. KEEP WRITING for that reason. No matter what.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.