In a Second
I have created a series of writing prompts for myself, from a variety of sources. One thing I appreciated about my grief writing course was the anticipation: every day I could look forward to a new prompt, stretching my mind in a new way. To keep a similar element of the unknown, I am going to write all of the prompts onto pieces of paper and put them into a jar. When I feel like I need to write about grieving or my losses, I will pull a prompt from the jar. I have a second set of prompts that are simply quotes I like. I am thinking about a second jar of quotes and drawing from each jar, then figuring out how to meld the two together, for an added challenge.
I do not know how often I will need this. Maybe once a week? Maybe twice a week? Maybe with no regularity at all? I have decided to entitle the series “Writing Forward.” The previous series was “Writing Grief.” I am hoping from this series of prompts I may force myself into the uncomfortable world of the future and what that looks like. And continue to use writing as a way to heal and move forward.
So here we go… Writing Forward, Day One.
What can happen in a second.
Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and never will be again. -Pau Casals
In a second, he took a deep, rattling breath. In the next second, the breathing had stopped. Nine decades of life and two decades of debilitating disease had drawn to a silent close.
In a second, it was a doctor’s appointment. In the next second, it was a word “cancer” and a mind spinning ahead to fear, treatments, hair, vomit, and survival.
In a second, she was holding her weeks-old baby, wondering. In the next second, it was the results of a chromosome panel and a lifetime of therapies, tests, community, tears, and advocacy.
In a second, he was running late for the meeting, and speeding forward in his red car with his red sweatshirt. In the next second they had met, and could not yet picture the path of a first kiss, a shared apartment, a ring, and a flowing white dress.
In a second, it was feeling the gentle pressure of the doctor’s hands in a sterile operating room. In the next second it was her son’s first wail and she became a mother.
In a second, she had to speak the words to him on the phone: “We lost the baby, there was no heartbeat today.” In a second, his day went from normal to The Day Our Baby Died.
In a second, she went from “Please let this nightmare be over” in labor to knowing that it had ended. In a second of stillness, she was no longer pregnant.
In a second, she hit “publish.” In a second, she chose to expose her broken heart for others to read and absorb.
In a second, she went from not thinking about grief to being consumed by it. In a second, a trigger reminded her that she was not free from grief’s grip.
In a second, the two lithe women clung to each other, dangling from the trapeze above the audience at a dizzying height. In the next second, they let go, spun through the air, and caught each other, fueled only by trust and appreciating gasps below. A second not calibrated to precision with the other would have been catastrophic. Instead, like two halves of a single body, they captivated her attention with their solid embodiment of her daughters.
In a second, she thought she had drowned. In another second, she emerged, gasping for breath and desperate to cling to something solid.