A new adventure in the dead of winter; a chance to create in the shadow of death; a beginning from an ending – I call this a semicolon moment, a moment when life could have ended, but instead only paused and continued. It’s not my first such moment. Hopefully, it won’t be my last.
As most know, Project Semicolon is a mental health and suicide prevention organization, created in 2013 by Amy Bleuel, that gained national momentum in 2015 when people started getting tattoos of semicolons on their bodies and posting them on social media. According to the Project Semicolon website, the project name is derived from the idea that “an author uses a semicolon when he could have ended a sentence but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.” Although the meaning behind the semicolon tattoo is suicide prevention and mental health awareness, the semicolon has also taken on a symbolic meaning for people who chose to begin again, to not end their sentence, due to an array of reasons not limited to mental health.
That, definitely, describes my situation right now. Having recently lived through a ruptured brain aneurysm and then landing in a brand-new life, i.e. the editor of a new, never-before-done online newspaper, is the last of many stops, starts, pauses, question marks, exclamation points and, yes, semicolons, in my life. I’ve gone through two marriages and divorces; given birth to and raised two beautiful children; put myself through college; built a career and supported my family as a single mother and — buried my beautiful daughter, Abby Hoge, when she was 15 years old, seven years ago. The fact that I lived through Abby’s death, is more miraculous than living through the ruptured brain aneurysm. As long as I live, I will never “get over” her death, but by force of time and love and faith, I am getting through it.
If I were a person with tattoos, I would have semi-colons all the way up my arm, as well as a few exclamation marks, a couple WTF’s, (I guess they would be expressed as question marks), several ellipses (often used in informal writing to express a pause, or a moment of unknowing). I’ve had lots of those. There would be a few hyphens, used to highlight a certain portion of a sentence, maybe, even a few quotation marks. Luckily for me, there wouldn’t be any periods yet. Come to think of it, that would be a pretty cool collection of tattoos – it would be art in itself. The punctuation could tell quite a story without any words, like a mysterious psychological road map to an unknown destination.
I guess that’s what art is, in part, anyway. It’s a way to convey thoughts, ideas, emotions, without directly saying, this is what I think, this is how I feel, etc.
So, I begin again with two capable hands, an open heart and a healthy mind. I begin again, with a new/old career — a new joy and an old sorrow. It was a pause, not an ending…