Deep in my heart I’ve always been a writer. I was just so incredibly daunted by the publishing industry that for years I just didn’t dare to go there. I’ve thought about writing books about almost everything: the countries I have visited, the mysticism that I explored, and the exceptional transition that I underwent in bringing a child into this world. For years I’ve drifted in and out of poetry about Prince Edward Island, my rolling homeland.
I wrote essays and poetry, testing my elastic relationship with writing, and never giving up that someday my words may to further. But so far nothing had called.
I moved out west and filled chapters of old notebooks with the interesting characters of Salt Spring Island, and with my road stories of reckless abandon. The scenes that had filled my life came alive in my letters, and in a space that was long before the online capacities of emails, blogs and tweets. I dedicated volumes to trees alone, singing the glories of the redwoods that would have inspired Keats himself. The voice that came to me was one of an ancient woman, connected to everyone and everything through the vast cosmos, in long bands of energy.
I traveled a lot. My poems made circles, cinnamon rolls of words that traveled with me as I embarked and disembarked buses and planes, writing through mountains, in tunnels and across borders. My words walked along cocktail napkins and railroads, jumping over matchbooks, old ticket stubs or faded, abandoned bus transfers. Words lived everywhere for me. My heart’s voice spoke louder.
I started to theme my journals, to keep the chaos of poetry, songs, and philosophy separate. A dream journals spoke softly with rare and unreasonable pictures I’d drawn, half asleep, of staircases with diamond shoes and spinning turntables growing into red tomatoes. The stories those dreams told were the most private of my soul’s existence, of my deepest fear, of a dishonored need, or of my finest forgotten accomplishment.
My ideas became the living stories of a simple philosopher’s quest for the meaning of our existence, like so many who had come before me. I became focused on the essence of energy, which encircled my writing for quite some time. Occasionally a road sign would arrive and there would be clarity, my heart’s voice never tiring of revealing something new.
My literature degree eventually continued into an education degree and my profession took on a life of its own. As I aged I confronted the various levels and love and loss. My journal overflowed with poems and songs, and into their crisp white pages I spilled tears on several occasions. Whether they were tears of happiness, of wonder, or of bereavement, those pages were always a friend to me, my writing a source of comfort and constant companionship.
My heart’s voice followed me through love and commitment, and eventually towards marriage and a baby. My voice shied away, stepping softly into the darkness and perhaps shedding a quiet tear of its own, but to which I never did seem to notice, perhaps like a friend not chosen on the playground. I just didn’t have time to write, and a glued photo with a caption here or there became the standard, a Neil Young lyric with stars or sketches around it. Occasionally I would pen a poem of the amazing sisterhood of women, and our places in this cosmic space. For then for months, there would be nothing.
I would have moments of inner wonder and contemplation, remembering that strong voice, which had been my constant companion reverberating through drum circles and sparks and wild energy, and think back to a day when I had let it shine. My heart’s voice had become quietly and sadly hushed to a whisper, a faint glow in my otherwise busy, overcrowded life. My time belonged to my family, now, where once it had belonged to my words.
Late some evenings, I would have a drink and play Joan Baez songs on the guitar, wondering why I had never made it that far with my writing, and should I regret that. My husband barely knew I ever wrote at all. I started picking up the pen again during the pregnancy of my second child, just to define the excitement and to loosen the parameters of familial expectation. My heart’s voice sailed peacefully along, never straying too far, but never speaking too loudly either.
When our daughter was stillborn at thirty-nine weeks, I was at a desperate loss. I looked to books: to words of wisdom, to words of strength, and to words of peace. I waded through dozens of hardback and paperbacks, waiting for the voice of raw emotion, hopelessly looking for something to make me feel better in the search for solace. I needed repair. I needed healing. I needed words.
I could no longer wait for that strength of heart to return. I could only count on myself. I called out for that voice when there was only darkness. I prayed and I wept and I grieved. With a fiery vengeance I began to write.
I knew I needed to write the book that I was seeking. I was called to write it not only for my peace of mind, but for the thousands of women out there, who, like me, have suffered a loss in their lives. For the women and families in this painful and inconsolable state, my heart writes for you.
Suddenly my heart’s voice – who I was as a writer – it couldn’t be silenced. When my husband and daughter left the country on an epic trip across Southeast Asia, I anxiously put pen to paper. My story, a story of love and of redemption, had to be told, and my heart was set on it.
As I breathed life into the pages of my manuscript my voice became louder and louder. As I wrote, I honored that voice coming from a place deep within. It connects with the brave voices of millions who have come before it, and the millions of brave voices that will come after.
I had found my heart’s voice.