Stories of our lives – Feb 21, 2014

This partial post was written by Shannon and posted by her mom, Gretchen.

I have theory about life. It might just be me, but it helps me make sense of where I am and what is happening.

I believe that we create a narrative of our lives

I’ve always been a writer. More importantly, I’ve always been a reader. I’ve read every kind of story, and over time, narrative structure has become intuitive to me. I predicted that in Harry Potter (*spoiler? Really just read the darn books or at least watch the movies*), I predicted Dumbledore’s fate 2-3 books earlier. It had to be. For Harry, the boy wizard, to truly come-of-age, his father figure had to disappear in some way. This is how these kinds of stories happen.

My whole life, I’ve tried to predict what kind of story my life would be. When I was very young, I would daydream about a tragically young death and how sad everyone would be. Not because I had any real fascination with or desire for death, but because I didn’t have any real frame of reference for a “finale” of life that I could relate to. How could I imagine myself as a middle-aged adult, let alone an elderly person dying peacefully?

As I got older and realized that, happily, I managed to outlive those morbid predictions, I had to rewrite my predicted narrative. There really aren’t a lot of narrative archetypes for “normal life,” so I just lived day to day and generally forgot about creating my narrative, at least once I got my “happily ever after” with Peter.

Once I got my diagnosis, I instantly went to tragedy, understandably. I realized that in all those “tragic beginnings” in stories, like in Harry Potter, or Cinderella, or pretty much every damn Disney movie, the early loss of a parent isn’t just the beginning of a story, but is also the end of another’s. I tried to imagine how my narrative (or the lack thereof) might shape my unborn daughter’s life. How would Peter tell my story? What could I leave for her to remember me by?

Everything was a sign. Everything.

As life improved, other endings for my story reappeared. I could begin to plan for a garden in the spring, I could think about months or years ahead.

More importantly, I began to realize that