I’ll start out by saying that I have never read most of your books. Well, to be completely honest, I’ve dabbled here and there with “To the Lighthouse” and by dabbled I mean I read the first couple chapters and I put it down because my head hurt and I saw something in young adult fiction that caught my eye. But I did read “Mrs. Dalloway.”
It was required. But good, don’t get me wrong.
You are certainly not someone that I have had in my life nor have your ideas been of much influence on me in the grand scheme of things. And I’ll just say right here, right now that the only real time I ever understood what “To the Lighthouse” even meant happened in high school when my teacher went bonkers on how incredible the reoccurring concepts of time and change in the novel were. That intrigued me and the idea of it was fascinating. But not until I actually picked it up and read it did I realize I could not fully comprehend what you were trying to say.
Now the reason why I am speaking to you isn’t because of the legacy you left behind, but merely because I happened to be googling one day and decided to Wikipedia the lives and upbringings of the best authors the world has ever come to know. So yes, you can thank Wikipedia for our little rendezvous today.
When I was younger, I saw a film based on your life and the only part I remember is when the leading lady stuffed her dress pockets with large stones and calmly walked into the middle of the river and silently slipped under the surface.
And that was the end of that.
I remember reading your early life bio and how you were briefly institutionalized after the death of your father and the sudden pass of your mother and half sister led to one of your first nervous breakdowns. I read all this and even though you will never meet me and I am someone you will never exchange words with, I’ll admit I cried when I read it. These were not just facts that someone wrote down on some half updated internet post.
And that’s not to say that I want to suddenly pat you on the back and say, “I know how you feel,” but I want to say nothing and nod my head and hold you while you cry and be there when a rush of emotions comes through you that you wish you could explain but cannot. I’d cry with you when you were too shocked and too removed from the world to function even in the slightest bit because the people that once gave you more meaning to life than you could ever possibly bring into the world is now gone and there is no vacant hallway, deserted kitchen area or untouched piano room you could ever venture into to find them.
When even the most skilled occupation made possible with your pen and paper could not be done because your mind could never be brought back to reality again, I’d hold you and listen to the wails and sobs escaping your throat. That maybe we are not so dissimilar and if we removed the aspects of time, experience, age and upbringing, we could look each other in the eye and say, “I understand you.”
How many years has it been between us and the emotions are still the same, the feeling of being the trouble and burdening the ones who love us and striving so incredibly hard to be one’s own self, but failing each time? Living by merely scraping by and hoping that the next day and the next after that feels less like death and Hell all wrapped up into one. That the ones who are sick are unknown and can’t act for themselves and for them, literal death becomes sweeter and far more gentle than anything they can ever imagine.
To the late Virginia Woolf, I salute you.
May you find peace and know happiness in ways that you could not in life.