Friday, September 9, 2016

Living the life of a storyteller. Or just living life.

When Kevin and I first got together as a couple the phrase living the life of a storyteller quickly became one of our in-jokes. You know what I mean, one of those things that you and your lover say that means more to you than it would to anyone else. What we meant by this particular phrase was something about accepting that life is a wild ride and everything that happens has potential for both humor and horror. We meant that living like a storyteller meant a kind of deeply engaged but still highly observational life.

We found that this attitude made it easier to bear some of the difficulties we encountered. It meant that we both knew there was someone who would get the absurdity of the everyday. Yes, there were things about it that were specific to us both being storytellers and writers, but mostly it meant we weren't alone.

A big part of what I found so difficult after Kevin died was losing this specific connection. I no longer had the single person in my life with whom I could communicate so much through a glance or a simple phrase. This isn't unique to me, I think it happens to most widowed people. My mother is experiencing it now in the weeks following my father's death. Kevin and I just had a catchphrase.

The last few days have brought that phrase to mind again. In the last 36 hours or so I've had a number of notable experiences that reminded me that being open to the world is part of the storyteller's work. They include:
  • Finding out that a friend had an encysted twin which was causing a variety of health problems. Now that it's gone they are in much better shape.
  • Performing a wedding ceremony in a jail.
  • Listening to stories about Szechuan province, learning about Chinese opera and hearing a traditional Chinese love story, all told to me by the owner of a wonderful Chinese restaurant who was so happy that a non-Chinese person loved his cooking and his brother's recipes.
  • Having a conversation with two Indian Muslin men about the best brand of tea and how their mothers taught them to brew it. They both wanted me to know the best way to make tea and fully expect me to come back and tell them which method I prefer.
  • and more. But I thought these examples were enough.
This is living the life of a storyteller. Or maybe it's just life. I wish I could tell Kevin about these encounters. He would grin, then laugh and tell me that this stuff only happens to me, though we both knew that wasn't true. Things like this make me miss him more acutely, even as I have other people with whom I can share and who I know understand the absurdity of it all.

Maybe some of these events will find their way into a story. Or maybe not. What all of this really tells me is that I am alive. Missing him is part of being alive now. I am still part of the world, even though there were times in the first year of mourning when I thought that would never be and I never wanted it to be.

All of this tells me that, as long as I keep living this life, it will be one of stories told and others hidden away with a small smile. It will be one of remembering Kevin and keeping him in the world by saying his name, by sharing the things I know would delight him, even if no one else will quite get why and how. It will be a life of story and sorrow; humor and horror; wrenching pain, even in moments of joy; laughter, even in grief; life, even after death.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

No comments:

Post a Comment

True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
Related Posts with Thumbnails