Writing things down makes them real.
To me, that's always been true.
There's something that happened when I was only five or six that has always stuck with me. Maybe it's why I'm the way I am or maybe it was just so odd at the time that I'll always remember it.
We were at a funeral. I don't remember for who, because I don't think it's really important. It was my first one and I was excited. I would get to dress up nice and see my cousins. It would be fun. I didn't even really understand the word at the time . . . funeral. I knew it had something to do with some distant relative, but I was otherwise clueless.
Anyways, after a bunch of running around, my parents made me sit down in the back of a room behind a ton of chairs. There was lots of people crying and there was a line snaking up to the front of the room. My parents got in line and told me to stay sitting down with my cousins. Michelle, only a six months or so older than me, wandered off to find her parents and I did the same as my brother and another cousin started a 'body noise' contest.
I found my parents. They weren't thrilled to see me. My mom grabbed my hand and said something to my dad . . . I don't remember what. But I remember moving forward. There was no one in front of us. Just some people standing in front of a pretty box.
I asked my mom what was inside.
She didn't answer. Not straight off. "Do you know what a funeral is?"
I shook my head. I think she sighed and picked me up. "You're old enough to see this Meghan. Just be quiet."
And they walked forward to pay their last respects.
Later, on the ride home, my dad was talking to my brother and I, trying to explain death. My brother was only three and was convinced he was going to die. I was just . . . quiet. I'd wanted to scream when I saw the coffin. I didn't want to look at it. But I hadn't been able to look away after I realized what it was. Before I could say anything, my mom rushed me away. I'd followed her advice. I'd been quiet.
Later on, I would ask my father why anyone would want to see a dead person. And he'd say "Because seeing it makes it real."
I've thought about that one long and hard.
I think it was around that time that I first started scribbling down ideas and calling them stories. I was read to every night and I knew my alphabet and how to spell some simple words. I would babble to my mom and she would write things down in her lovely, scripty handwriting. I began doing it more and more often. I liked it.
It made things real.
I've never had a near death experience but I still count death as one of my biggest creative influences (how stereotypically artistic does that sound?). I was a little girl then, confused, trying to make sense of life and just how fragile it was.
I'm a big girl now, still trying to come to terms with mortality . . . and I've never stopped writing.
Think about it, Whyville.