I took a creative writing class my senior year of high school. I hated it. Seriously. HATED IT. I skipped that class so much that it was the ONE AND ONLY grade on my high school transcript that wasn’t an A. I hated it so much that I avoided class and homework, ending up with a C. I graduated with a 3.99, which really is awesome, but I still regret not having gone to that class or done what I sometimes did in high school and made a deal with the teacher to still secure my A. Instead, I refused to talk to the teacher. She creeped me out.
I know. I should have just gone to class. The teacher always wrote compliments in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS WITH SWOOSHING UNDERLINES on assignments, when I did actually hand them in. It would have been an easy A. Sigh.
So when I DID go to class, we would start by writing in our journals for a few minutes. The teacher would pick the topic and give us five or ten minutes to write something. On a spring day, the topic was to make a list. She offered us a few choices of what we could make our lists of and I picked the people-who-have-died choice. So in my journal, I have an entry that is simply a list of names, their relationship to me, how they died and when (or approximately) they died.
I’m not going to copy this journal entry into the blog today because a list of friends and family who are gone is a bit too personal for the internet.
It still surprises me, though, how long it is. Since my senior year of high school, I could have added an additional seven people.
Is that strange? I’m not even thirty yet and I’ve been to twenty funerals of friends and family members.
Or is that typical?
It’s not a sad thing, though, I promise.
Each person left a legacy and taught me more than I could record in hundreds of journals. For some of them, I was part of the funeral and the songs that I sang or played are that much more cherished to me now.
Every time I look at that list, I can remember these things. This is a good list.
And so, ten years later, I no longer hate my creative writing class. It taught me to start opening journals and write in them. It taught me that I didn’t have to just write, “here’s what I did today.” And it gave me a list of people who have died.