True Stories II (& Poetry)

by Ed Davis on December 3, 2015

So did I send my childhood pal, terminally ill with a brain tumor, the memoir I’d written describing a traumatic event that happened in 1965 when we were adolescents growing up in southern West Virginia—an event that tore apart our previous friendship and sent him into hiding and aligned me with our peers against him? (As I wrote in my previous blog post.)

Not at first.

I was reluctant to bother my friend with a memoir that was more about me—my role and my guilt—than about his reaction to public humiliation. And yet I found myself ready to face my role and finally get at the truth about what really happened.

I rewrote the piece, transforming telling into showing, striving for as much factual accuracy as I could, despite the intervening half-century time lapse. Finally I wrote my friend and asked him if I could send him my description of that summer. His answer:  “Send away.” I did and sweated razor blades awaiting his response, wondering whether I’d gotten significant details wrong, or, worse, awakened dogs which had lain peacefully sleeping.

When, after a few days, I saw in my in-box an email from him, I took a deep breath, uttered a quick prayer and opened his message. “You did well,” he said. He didn’t correct a single detail, though I’d decided I’d be happy if I got things mostly right. “May I have a version without curse words to share with my parents?” he queried. “I don’t think they ever really understood what happened.”

After excising the 3-4 words that might offend parental sensibilities, I sent him the sanitized version, blessed by his acceptance, astonished and relieved. We exchanged a few more emails and he told me at this point in his life, he has “few regrets and no resentments” (and gave me permission to share his words).

So what, you may ask, did telling this true story do for me? Though my friend blessed me by accepting my version of events, he never uttered the words I forgive you—nor does he need to. I also have a few regrets, such as not standing up for him, regardless of the social cost. Would his forgiveness erase what happened? No. The forgiveness I need is my own. And I’m working on that.

One more time:  Reading at Glen Helen!

The fourth annual Solstice Poetry Reading will take place at Glen Helen’s Vernet Ecological Building on December 11, 7-9:00 p.m.

This year’s readers scheduled readers include Matthew Birdsall, Robert Brimm, James Brooks, Grace Curtis, Audrey Hackett, Joshua Hayward, Suzanne Kelly, Fred Kirchner, Sierra Leone, Stella Ling and Dennis Loranger.

The scheduled poets will each read for 3-5 minutes each, followed (after a wine and cheese reception) by open mic. This year’s theme is The Sacred Solstice.

I’d love to see  you there!

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