Thursday, February 26, 2015

Words and words are all I have... by Anusha Atukorala


I wake up in my hotel room at the Changi airport. The time is 4.40 p.m. Groggy and disoriented, I walk to the bathroom. My eyelids are half closed. I splash cold water on my face. A cup of tea would be nice. I plug in the kettle and make myself a cuppa. I sit back on my bed and sip it slowly. Mmm. That feels good. Very good.

I wake up. I remember. I am here waiting for my connecting flight back home after Mum’s funeral. Without any warning, tears begin to rain down my cheeks. My blouse gets soaked. Mama is gone. My beloved, wonderful, amazing, one of a kind Mother is no more. I miss her so. I can’t reach her. Never again on earth. Never is a sad word. Never is never! I put the cup down. I rush to my overnight bag. I pull out a book. A slim volume with a light green cover. I open it.

“This book is for Anusha when I’m gone. 4/5/07” AA

It’s the journal my Mama left for me. Slowly, I turn its pages and begin to read. The tears continue to fall. But Mum’s journal comforts me, a warm fire on a dark sad winter’s night. Quotations, poems, verses; many in her own beautiful familiar hand writing. What a treasure trove! I read on. I am blessed. Her presence is with me.

That was 6 weeks ago. It’s now almost 2 months since my beloved Mother passed away on the 4th of January 2015. Mama hadn’t been sick for more than a few days, so her death came as a mammoth shock to us her family. We’d been hoping to celebrate her 90th – all 34 of us children, grand children and great grandchildren – only 6 months on. We could hardly believe that we’d been cheated of that special celebration for Mum. She was eagerly looking forward to it and so were we.

In today’s blog I honour the extraordinary woman who was my Mum. Because you see… if not for her, I would not be part of CWD. Mum was a writer. I imbibed my love of books and reading and writing from her. She was a journalist for 72 years – right until she died at age 89. Her Christmas article was published in the newspaper 10 days before. In 2014 she was given the award of Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. Mum was also a counsellor and a speaker and a friend of many. She touched hundreds of people. She used words. To bless and build. To challenge. To build a better world.
The Journal she left me is now my most prized possession. I discover inside an excerpt from an email I wrote to her in June 2007. “I have some good news about my writing. I got my first Aussie acceptance. Isn’t that wonderful? I had a letter yesterday from Strand Publishing. My story ‘A dream realised’ will be printed in a book called ‘Australian stories to inspire the heart…” It touches me now that Mum pasted it in her special journal. She was the "ever-present, totally-for-me" cheer-leader of my writing journey. When I sent her a link to my Amazon Author page just a few weeks before she died, she responded immediately:

Goodness gracious me! I AM vastly impressed, darlintest of authors.
Your devoted fan,
Anne A.


Mum wrote fearlessly to change systems. She challenged injustice and stood up for the downtrodden. Her writing made a difference. Today, though sharing with you a little of her professional career, what I’d like to highlight is something different. For almost 16 years, Mum and I wrote a long daily email to each other every night. Today, the 5093 emails (yes, that many) she sent me over the years comfort me. Her journal blesses me. Mum kept closely in touch with her seven children and their spouses, her eleven grandchildren and their spouses and her 4 great grandchildren. That is a lot of us! Mum was a prolific email correspondent with many people all over the globe; young and old, men and women, people from all walks of life. She was a writer! Not only professionally but all the time.
We writers have one major tool that we use over and over again. Words. Words matter. Words build and create. Like bricks to a builder or paint to an artist, we writers have the time of our lives splashing words about in life's ocean, don’t we? But here’s the question. What of the words we use in our spare time? Are they being put to good use as much as our professional writing? We writers have the ability to touch lives. Do we use words to that end? Are others enriched by our words? All day? Every day? Whom can you bless today through your writing? An email? A snail mail letter? A card? A poem? A few words on Facebook? A status message? A story – not just for publication but to encourage a friend? May you and I continually colour our world with words – words that bless, anoint, encourage, challenge and inspire.

And just as Mum’s journal continues to bring healing to my life – may you and I use words to heal and restore. Are you up for the challenge? And while we are about it – do you have stories of how your words have blessed another? I’d love to hear them.

Anusha Atukorala is a writer with a song in her heart and a message to proclaim. The love of Jesus is her anchor, her strength and her song. Her first book ‘Enjoying the Journey’ is a collection of little God thoughts from every day life. She has been enriched on her writing journey not only by God’s wisdom and inspiration but also by many amazing writer friends just like yourself! You can connect with her on her weekly blog and website Dancing in the Rain. Do drop in to say G'day.

13 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and inspiring post Anusha. What a wonderful gift to have your Mum's journal and all of those emails. And it's so true that it's not just our 'professional' words that can make a difference. I've been blessed so many times by emails, letters and notes. I even have some of them in my Bible because they meant so much to me. It's a good reminder that it's easy to comfort and encourage with our words. Your Mum has passed on a wonderful legacy to you and you're carrying on that tradition with the words you share to bless others. May God continue to comfort you through your Mum's beautiful words and may you always be a blessing. Take care xx

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    1. Thanks so much Nola for both reading and responding. Yes Mum's words do bless me very much these days - I keep delving into old letters of her and mine and discover things I'd forgotten - and rediscover too the friendship we shared and indeed still share through those letters. Delighted to hear you've kept letters that meant a lot to you in your Bible. I think one of my main love languages is words of affirmation - so words do speak powerfully to me. Bless you for your loving words my friend. God bless and thank you Nola. xox

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  2. Hi Anusha a lovely and moving tribute to your amazing mother. And what a beautiful idea - to leave a journal for your child. It's got me thinking about doing the same for my own children. Who knows when God will call us home.

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    1. Thanks so much Jenny. So glad the journal idea gripped you too. I too plan on leaving 3 journals - for my son, my niece and my husband. As you said - who knows when God will call us home, so it's time to get cracking! :)

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  3. Thank you, Anusha, for sharing your heart with us and your lovely tribute to your mum. What a special woman she must have been! I love that idea of the journal she left you too--a wonderful labour of love. And how blessed you were to have a 'devoted fan' and cheerleader there for you each day of your life. You know, it sounds to me as if there must be some sort of book in all those emails and that journal for you to share with us all, Anusha--may God show you the shape of what that might be.

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    1. Thanks for your heart warming words Jo-Anne. And yes, I was deeply blessed to have her love and example and encouragement in my life. You are right - there may be not one but a number of books in all of this. I just have to ask God to lead me. I've started a journal since she died called 'Surprised by Grief' since she died and believe it may become a book one day. But yes - her letters and mine to her too. Am really enjoying dipping into them and they give me much comfort. Bless you for caring Jo-Anne. xox

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  4. Amazing words that bless Anu! I wrote something before..but seems like it got lost!

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    1. Thanks so much Angie. So sorry your words got lost before - it does happen to me too! :) Bless you for taking the time to read and respond. xox

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  5. O the power of words. You are blessed indeed to have such a wonderful heritage, Anusha. What an amazing woman your sweet mum must have been. How wise of her to leave you such a big part of her soul self. She may have left you physically but she still lives in her words that will evoke all those precious memories.

    May the Lord continue to comfort you..

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    1. Thank you Rita for your warm words. Yes, words are powerful aren't they? And I am indeed blessed by my wonderful heritage through both my Mum and Dad. And yes, she still lives on through her words. Thank you for sharing this bittersweet time with me by reading and responding. Bless you.

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  6. Hi Anusha,
    It sounds like she was a wonderful, thoughtful mother to have left you such a gift. How you must be missing those regular emails. Thanks for reminding us all how valuable our words are, written and spoken.

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  7. Thanks so much Paula for both reading and responding. Yes, she was an amazing Mum and an amazing woman not just towards me but also to my 6 siblings and scores of others - as a friend, counselor and 'Mum'. Thank you for your warm words. I do miss her emails - and miss being able to share with her through email - but am enjoying all those emails from the past which continue to bring her close to me. Thanks again. :)

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  8. You Mum sounds amazing. What a great memory you have in those emails and journal.

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