In my last blog post, I wrote: “For many years as an adult, I hid. I cut myself off from old friends who would have wanted to know what was going on. I didn’t want to tell them.”
When our family moved from Middletown to Kettering, OH in the early 80s, we left behind a whole group of tight-knit church friends. I didn’t include in my memoir the story of the house church some of us founded, a most meaningful experience for us. But that is another story for another time.
This week, I reconnected with one significant friend from my past, LaVerne, my daughter’s first piano teacher. LaVerne, her husband Dick, and their three children Dale, Bruce, and Sandra were active members of The Church of the Continuing Creation, our house church.
After her husband died, LaVerne moved to Houston, TX, to be near her daughter. My memoir brought us back together.
LaVerne and I have been friends on Facebook for awhile, but we hadn’t talked in several years except for a visit I made to her shortly before she moved to Houston. I was still in the process of writing A Long Awakening to Grace. I trusted LaVerne to give me honest feedback about how she experienced me in my relationship with my then husband. She had many opportunities to observe us in the 70s. I wanted to be as candid as possible about my part in our relationship not working.
But because some of what I experienced with my children was still too painful to talk about, I didn’t share much with her about that part of the story. She learned about it through reading my memoir.
It was important to me that someone significant to me from my past know my truth. In fact, a Facebook message I received from another member of the house church when my memoir was first published brought me to tears. Karen was a teenager in the house church and her mother, Wapella, was one of my dearest friends. Unfortunately, Wapella died before my memoir was published. Karen said:
“Linda, I read your book this weekend and was very moved. I smiled at the memories of people from our past and shed a few tears during certain passages. Thank you for sharing your insight and pain.”
When I knew LaVerne, also one of my closest friends, wanted to read my book, I asked her to give me honest feedback after she finished reading. And thankfully she called me Sunday evening instead of sending a text. We talked for two hours.
“Through memoir people get to know us, the inner details they never knew. Glad you rekindled your relationship!” Linda Joy Myers, founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers and one of my teachers.
Not only did LaVerne not know the inner details of my life, she knew little of the outer details. She seemed to hardly know how to respond. She just kept saying “Wow!” She also told me that she talked with her children about reading my book, telling them, “I lost touch with Linda a long time ago and her life just kept getting worse.” She wondered how I am “still standing.”
As Linda Joy, author of two memoirs, Don’t Call Me Mother and Song of the Plains, and several books on writing memoir, knows … it is the inner details that most interest friends.
Most of the conversation with LaVerne centered around the deep, inner details of our lives. She didn’t seem to recognize her musical talents as gifts that are every bit as spiritual as my contemplative writing and involvement in groups that delve deep into soul. But by the end of our conversation, she seemed pleased to appreciate that fact at a deeper level.
LaVerne is an extrovert with a great sense of humor. She finds people fascinating and loves to interact, often initiating contact through humor. People enjoy and trust her almost immediately. That is a gift I wish I had. While I find people as intriguing as she does, I have a much more difficult time initiating conversation.
And, now that, in LaVerne’s words, “…we broke the barrier we’ll talk often to check up on each other.” Before we ended the call, we reaffirmed our friendship and love for each other. What a blessing. Another gift of grace that has come as a result of publishing A Long Awakening to Grace. I am once more filled with gratitude.