Sharing grief and healing through poetry
One hopes never to receive the phone call received by Jefferson County resident Tessa Reed; the phone call saying that there has been a terrible accident. Reed received such a call at Thanksgiving in 2009 when she learned that her only son, Charles Hutchinson, II (CJ) had been fatally wounded in an automobile accident in California. CJ was stationed there with the United States Marine Corps.
Boarding a plane to be with him as life support was removed, Reed never believed she would really live again, let alone share her manner of dealing with grief with others.
This week, Reed has released a volume of inspirational poetry entitled “Live Love Loss: The Aftermath.” The collection marks many months of healing through the written word, something she says helped her cope with the devastating loss.
Reed’s emotional outpouring of memories and feelings helped her live from day to day. She shared that the first poem, entitled “Mama’s Boy” was penned just days after her return from California as she sat in a local doctor’s office seeking help for the depression she was feeling.
“I asked for paper because I needed to write,” she said. She calls her work “therapy,” something which has helped her over the past two years.
Reed said that she never intended her words to be gathered in a book but saw them only as a release of her own emotions. She did share them, she said, with family members and friends as well as some individuals she met through One Legacy, an organ donor association who helped with her son’s wishes to be an organ donor.
“I sent random pieces to some focus groups on Facebook,” she said, “and people kept telling me I should publish them.”
Reed said that she decided several months ago to work toward the collaboration of her poems and publish them.
“My hope,” she shared, “is that even one person who has gone through what I have can find comfort in the words. I want people to know that there is a light at the end of that tunnel.”
She went on to say, “It’s more than words on a page. It’s what I felt and lived through that made the words possible.”
To learn about how to self-publish a book, Reed said she took a creative writing course offered by the Jefferson County Schools Adult Education program. Taught by local author Bob O’Connor, Reed said the class helped her leran what had to be done to publish. She shared that the process took about six months; however, the material had already been written over the years since CJ’s death.
“It is a bittersweet endeavor,” Reed said. “In a second I would give back the book, the experience, all of it, to have CJ back.” But she continued, since that is not possible, her hope is that her words will offer some healing for others.
In addition to poetry entries, Reed shares some pieces of prose about her life and CJ. She also includes a quote found in his personal journal which was written just weeks before his death. It reads:
“Live everyday like it’s your last. Show all the people in your life that you want to be a friend. Show everyone you love that you know what love means and you would do anything for them and just love everyday you’re alive and then when you step in front of the King tell him you’re sorry for all your mistakes in the world.”
Reed calls the words, “words to live by,” and still has no idea what caused her son to pen them.
Life Love Loss: The Aftermath can be purchased online at www.infinity.com and will soon be available online at Barnes and Noble and Books A Million. Reed plans to schedule book signings at local bookstores around the area. In the meantime, she said, if one wishes to obtain an autographed copy of the book, they should visit firstname.lastname@example.org.