Working Through Pain

This afternoon, I checked in on Twitter and found the tweet below by Tim Pratt:


… which in turn led me to this tweet by Neil Gaiman:


… which in turn led me to this this post on Neil’s blog:

A long, strange day. In the taxi downtown this morning I learned that there had been a sudden death in the family, and I went down to the sunshine of Union Square to phone people, and sort logistical things out, and breathe…

You must go, this moment, my writer friends, and read Neil’s post. Go on, click this link… I’ll wait.

Dedication of a Writer

Ok, now that you’re back, I’ll continue…

When I read that post, I remembered that I’d been watching this event unfold on Twitter. Yesterday, I saw this tweet by Pablo Defendini:


From other tweets, I knew the signing had been going on for awhile, but no one knew what Neil Gaiman was going through. He worked for eight hours, reading for the audience and signing hundreds of books.

My heart goes out to the Gaiman family for the pain of their loss, but also to Neil directly because I know how it feels to keep working through pain.

Working Through Pain

I know what Neil means when he talks about working through pain and the intense gratitude one feels toward everyone who keeps the work coming.

Eight years ago, my mother suffered a terrible accident. I was scheduled to head off to Europe on business just a few days later. It seemed like she was going to get better, so I went ahead with my trip.

Unfortunately, she did not get better.

While abroad, I received news that her traumatic brain injury had worsened and that she was brain dead. I explained to my colleagues that I needed to go home early. They were shocked because I’d been working at our usual crushing pace with no sign of the turmoil in my life. How could I do that?

I told them how much I appreciated their kindness. I told them how much I appreciated the opportunity to work, because working was all I could do. I had to keep moving. The pain would catch up later. It always does.

That’s really all I have to say in this post. No lessons or morals. No lectures or funny business. Life is like that sometimes…

8 thoughts on “Working Through Pain

  1. Jamie, thank you so much for sharing Neil’s loss and your own. I am so sorry for you, and for Neil. I believe our ability to compartmentalize during the most difficult times is a blessed gift, God’s way of allowing us to remove ourselves from the pain temporarily until we can face it. It also steadies us in a strange way when the ground has shifted beneath us. I wish no one ever had to face this part of life but no escaping it.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Sidewalk Surprises

  2. I fully agree about working through it that way. It’s not to bury the pain, it’s to cope. When my mom passed away, I was doing a stage show. I went ahead and did the next few performances even though there was an understudy who could have. If I hadn’t, I would have been a mess.

    I was a mess anyway, but not as bad. Doing what I normally would have done helped tremendously.

    RhodesTer´s last blog post..Weekend UPdate

  3. Yes — we can’t do anything for them. At that point, we have to take care of ourselves (“if the mask falls, put it over your face and breath normally”) and others, if we can (“if you’re travelling with children, put your own mask on, then attend to your children”). It’s like stopping a train or an 18-wheeler that’s fully loaded. If you hard-brake, you risk turning the whole thing over.

    He put up a picture of himself as a small child, with his father and grandfather. It did what generation pictures do, that was the thing, and I hope it did it for him like it did it for me — that was Neil’s face, there in his father’s, and echoes of it buried in his grandfather’s. Life goes on.

    thelittlefluffycat´s last blog post..Providence

  4. This past Feb 2nd, I lost my mother to a traumatic brain injury that happened three years and 13 days earlier. I worked through the loss – pushed myself as the gatekeeper of the family to get things done and it did help to get me through the initial time. Now, I find myself in a very stagnant, non-productive place. My heart goes out to Neil and to the loss you spoke of Jamie and all the others mentioned here. It’s timely for me, who has been wondering if things weren’t “more right” in earlier times when the world just came to a stand still for a period of time during crises like these. Not saying one way is better than the other ~ just wondering.

  5. I had just finished reading Neil’s blog before I clicked on your post. The thing that amazed me completely was that despite that fact that he was going through the loss of his father, he thought about he other people and what it would mean to them if they canceled the signing. What an amazing person, and not a bad author either.

    And to read about your own loss was very touching. It’s like we dive into the things we love in hopes that they will temporarily shield us from the onslaught of sorrow. Thanks for posting this.

    Jenny Bean´s last blog post..Almost there…

  6. Thanks so much for the great comments everyone. I’m not going to respond personally this time, even though that’s what I usually do. I think it’s enough in this case to allow the open forum to continue as people want and just share…

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