Although I never fully appreciated the extent of it, I always thought that my husband, Tom, was brilliant is many ways. Writing was one area that he excelled in. Tom had a way of adding several dimensions of depth into his writing. Choosing words which appeared on the surface to mean one thing, yet deeper down held far more significance.
I loved to watch him toil over his writing. He would work on the same piece for weeks or months, sometimes returning to it, years later, in order to get it just right. But I didn’t always appreciate his craft.
He’d read the same poem over and over as the edits were made. After he read it out loud he waited for our feedback. I often thought that he could strengthen the piece by cutting it into a few shorter poems. He didn’t always appreciate my telling him so.
The length and complexity of the poems meant that I had to concentrate for too long to stay with his thoughts.
Tom was close to his writing. Mostly writing about death, we joked that his blog was the death blog. Because of the topic, it was sometimes disturbing. That was part of the craft for him – make the reader squirm a little.
You see, Tom was always grieving. From the moment I met him, he’d already been hit with a loss that I can only imagine – the loss of a child. Stupidly I thought that I could heal it. But you cannot heal someone else’s grief; it is theirs to mend.
Over the years the losses of others near and dear to him came fast and furious. I don’t think he could keep up with the darkness that accompanied the pain, so he wrote about it. Nearly every one of his pieces had grief woven into it.
Now that I have lost Tom, I read his work and pick out the phrases with an appreciation for his pained virtuosity. I suppose that I finally get it.