On Writing

Published 10 years, 3 months past

Our situation, and my posts, have been the cause of sleepless nights and fallen tears for a great many people.  In some ways I feel bad about that; it occasionally feels like I’m forcing our pain onto other people, which isn’t exactly a friendly thing to do.  But I know you’re here because you want to be here for us, and here, words are how we commune.

But why, I am occasionally asked and occasionally ask myself, am I writing about Rebecca’s cancer instead of doing other things?  There are a number of reasons.

Part of it is that I’m creating a precisely timestamped chronicle for later, the historian in me asserting itself.  This is where a lot of my tweets come from, as well: the desire to record something at the moment, so that later I’ll be able to say whether X happened before or after Y or how many days apart two events actually were.

But it’s also for Joshua, if he wants to know more about his sister and what happened to her, when he’s older; and for Carolyn, if she ever wants to revisit this time or see it from my perspective, to compare against her memories.  And perhaps for others, if I ever decide to collect these fragments into some sort of longer work.

More importantly, writing about what’s happening and how I feel about it allows me to organize my thoughts and give some structure to what’s happening.  In a situation where so much is beyond our ability to do anything at all, this is something I can shape directly.  It allows me to feel some small measure of influence.  It lets me face my fears by naming them.  It helps me get a handle on a few shards of this overwhelming thing that defies any real understanding.

And of course I’m grieving online.  I do that here so that I can put it away elsewhere, so to speak.  When I’m with the kids, I can be there for them as the father I’ve always been and hope to keep being, rather than the hollowed-out ruin I sometimes feel like.  Grieving here, through the words that come to me, makes that easier to do.  So I write and tweet.  A little bit of pressure release.

But most of all, I am sharing Rebecca with you, with anyone who will listen.  We’ve always felt it’s up to our kids to become themselves and then bring themselves to the world in their own way, to meaningfully affect it and be affected by it.  In the words of Khalil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

We’ve always meant for our children to fly free of their own accord, on the arc of their choosing, when they were ready.  Rebecca will almost certainly not have that opportunity.

So now we are her archers.  In the Web, I have a bow that can send her arrow all the way around the world.  If her flight is to be short, then let it be far, a trail of purest fire etched across every sky, more beautiful and wondrous than any comet could ever hope to be.

Comments (46)

  1. Beautifully put. Sharing this journey with us is a gift rather than a burden. I feel honored that you share it. As always, I am praying for all of the Meyers.

  2. Eric,
    it is so good to know that you feel your writing helps you cope in a small way. I feel humbled being able to follow your journey from afar, to share your pain ~ wishing my hopes and best wishes for you all could help.
    I love your closing paragraph. Rebecca is touching many lives through your writing ~ may her light shine – always.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all of it.

  4. We have met you a number of times and shared a beer after conferences. Although you may not remember me, I have been touched by you for more than your CSS leadership but as a really nice guy. I feel many of those who post or send a comment have a connection. We want to support you and your family as if you were our family. We read and cry and wish we could do more. I have hoped that your journal of Rebecca could become a book to share with others who may be on that same road.
    I also find comfort in sharing stories of before the sadness, sharing the good times, the first times before a family member leaves us. So if it will bring you comfort, can you share some stories of Rebecca before she became ill? Sending love…

  5. Beautiful, Eric. I’m in awe of how much you’re capturing and sharing, despite it being unimaginable. Peace and good vibes…

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s struggle – and for doing it so eloquently. I hope that if I’m ever faced with a similar situation, I’ll react half as courageously as you and your family have. I hope that you’ve received some small comfort in return from the thousands of people on the web hoping for a miracle.

  7. Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. Thank you for letting us help be Rebecca’s archers.

  8. Yes, beautiful. I’m here to know Rebecca, to learn parenting and to be a friend. It’s a small denomination to pay back with but I hope that helps that many of us will stay with you, sharing the news whether we welcome or can’t stand it.

  9. Thank you for continuing to share Eric. Dump out, comfort in. We will do what we can for you, including listening.

  10. We’ve never met, but I’m listening. Thank you for sharing Rebecca with us.

  11. Thank you for writing and sharing your story and your child with us. Praying for you all daily.

  12. Your words are a gift to every person who has the privilege of reading them. They help us all.

  13. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wish so much for your family: peace, love, well-being. Reading these posts has felt like an (undeserved) invitation into a room where an intimate conversation is taking place. But I’m honored to read.

  14. I’m thinking of you, Rebecca, and the rest of your family every single day. I’m sorry that this is happening and wish there was something I could do. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Bravo. :)

  16. I so appreciate your words allowing us to follow your story without feeling obtrusive into your personal life. There is a lot of loving from afar happening.

  17. I love that Khalil Gibran piece. Thank you for sharing Rebecca with us. You have made her unforgettable. Bless you all.

  18. You are truly a gifted writer. Do not feel bad about the sleepless nights and the tears your posts cause. Not unless you also regret all the positive things coming from your posts. That’s how sharing goes. I’m learning from every post you make, trying to be a better human, person and father. Thank you.

  19. Eric, your writing helps me relive and reprocess experiences with loved ones who were also facing as deadly disease. In sharing this so publicly, you are not imposing on me at all. I do grieve and suffer with you, but I also grow stronger and more courageous. You have indeed made Rebecca’s arc travel far and exert great influence on the lives of many. Thanks so much for being brave enough to share.

  20. I remember not long after you brought Rebecca home, you brought her out to lunch with some of us lucky CWSA folks. You were such the beaming proud papa, and Rebecca was all curls and coos and big beautiful eyes. I thought to myself, kids aren’t for me, but I’m glad Eric is raising more awesome little people in this world. Your family’s grace and strength bring the rest of us inspiration. You’re raising brave, smart and independent children. I’m proud you are my friend.

  21. Thank you for sharing your grief and the bright light of Rebecca and your family. We’re honored.

    You will never regret your writings and when your other children are ready to read them, the love you all have for each other will wash over them again. For even in this tragedy, your family is blessed–incredibly blessed with strength and love and courage.

  22. You are bringing humanity to the web. We need to feel all life’s emotions and you have given us a fuller spectrum and for that, I am grateful.

  23. Thank you, Eric, for sharing your strength and your story. Rebecca’s strength and bravery are inspiring. Thoughts are with her and the rest of your family.

  24. Catching up on these posts after seeing in a twitter post. I only know you as the person who taught me CSS. It’s good to know that your family knows you as a great father and storyteller. I genuinely wish the subject was different. Prayers and good thoughts for what they are worth.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us random people from the internet. I can’t figure out how to describe what this means to me without sounding trite or insensitive (or both), so I’ll just say, thank you. Know that these posts have done, and will continue to do, good.

  26. God love you, and your family. Especially Rebecca, whose Earthly being didn’t deserve this. But whose Spiritual being will ascend and wait patiently in the Heavens to welcome her (whole) family ‘Home’ someday.

    Peace be with You.

  27. Your writing is a blessing to us and because of it, Rebecca’s ark will soar around the world touching lives with the depth and breadth of your love.

  28. I am a new father and can’t imagine the enormity of this. You have our best wishes.

  29. I cannot imagine what you and your family must be going through. I hope you will find solace in expressing yourself. I wish all of you all the strength in the world to deal with this tragedy.

  30. I know your joy as a father, but not your pain. Your honest and eloquent writing gives me insight into what too many families deal with. This is very touching. My heart goes out to your family.

  31. Your little girl’s bravery and you and your wive’s dignity through all this has been very touching. My thoughts are with your family.

  32. Like so many here, I am thinking of your family and especially your daughter often. I am glad putting your story online gives you space to process and be in the moment with your kids. It’s an honor to know you and Rebecca through your words. Thinking of you and yours in the days to come and wishing all of you strength for the future.

  33. I will definitely be praying for you and your family, I’m sure it’s been hard for all of you.

  34. Just wanted to pass on my best wishes for what they are worth

  35. I really don’t know what to say or wish. I would just like to wish your little girl and your family all the strength and courage in the world to face this illness. I hope your memories of each other remain as vivid as ever.

  36. I can’t even imagine how you’re feeling, all I can say is I’m really sorry this happened to your family. I hope your family can find a semblance of peace and will enjoy the hell out of your days to come.

  37. Dearest Eric, I erased everything I wrote because I thought, what if… Thinking of you, your family and Rebecca. And praying for what if…

  38. Writing is a wonderful thing, I’m glad it helps give you strength. As a fellow parent I’m touched and honoured to read your updates. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  39. The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin of a myriad of things.

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing these experiences with us., both eternally real and that which can be named.

  40. “Like so many here, I am thinking of your family and especially your daughter often. I am glad putting your story online gives you space to process and be in the moment with your kids.”


  41. Thank you, Eric, for describing why you’re capturing these moments and sharing them with the rest of us.

    I absolutely love Gilbran’s poem. Your conclusion following the quoting of it is remarkably moving. I’ve always enjoyed this take on Gilbran’s words, not nearly as eloquent as yours, but also influenced by his:

    “Our children take their flight into the future with our thrust and with our aim. And even as we anxiously watch that arrow in flight and know all the evils that can deflect its course after it has left our hand, nevertheless we take courage in remembering that the most important mortal factor in determining that arrow’s destination will be the stability, strength, and unwavering certainty of the holder of the bow.” –Jeffrey R. Holland

    How lucky Rebecca is to have you and Kat as her archers.

  42. Thank you for sharing these. My son (10) is asking nearly every day how Rebecca is doing.

    The tears that come along with our reading what you write is giving her an even greater existence as you are writing Rebecca into all of our hearts. This is a wonderful thing to do.

    Peace to you and yours.

  43. I was brought here because I have your old job and found your old work. A website that was a joke, bringing in the new year during the year 2000. I was going to just email the files to you if I found the contact info, being in the business we are our work is often like sand art made by Buddhist monks I felt like it would be cool to send it along since I knew the authors name (and it sounded familiar, as I’ve been on the internet since the early days and I’ve surely used all of your contributions since I was a teenager). I read a few of your blogs and I’m reminded of my best friend who died of cancer too young, begging me never to be ungrateful of getting old. Reminding me of the unspeakable pain of cells dying faster than they are multiplying, wanting only to grow. Your blog reminded me instead of the concept of legacy, and that YES. Even a five year old can leave a legacy. Regardless of our work and our day to day strife, we all leave a legacy on each other. As someone lucky enough to be a mother even the thought is unspeakable. I just want you to know that Rebecca has had an impact on my life, and the lives of my children, complete strangers. That impact is far greater than the silly day to day things we do to get by, to make an impact, to make a legacy in this community we call “the web”…far greater than even its founders could even imagine.

  44. Thank you for sharing Rebecca and the struggle with us. It is amazing how the blog world can provide both a great outlet, a private space to grieve and simultaneously invite strangers to participate in our grief/struggle/pain — even hold it a bit for us.

  45. You inspire me to be a better father. Thank you. #663399

  46. It was only yesterday that I first heard about your beautiful daughter Rebecca, the power of a community coming together and rebeccapurple – yet in some strange way through your words it feels as though your story has entered a part of my life, as though it will help to shape my actions and reactions in the future. A ripple has been started and her legacy will truly be ‘a trail of purest fire etched across every sky, more beautiful and wondrous than any comet could ever hope to be.’
    In Gratitude ~ Jaki :)

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