Close Up: Tricia Lott Williford Print
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:47 AM America/New_York

TriciaLottWillifordAndLifeComesBackLATEST PROJECT: And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed (9780307731982, $14.99, WaterBrook Press).

When you were suddenly widowed with two small boys at age 31, you wrote and blogged through your grief. How helpful was that to you? In that first year, my writing was helpful because it was a consistent piece of my life. This part of my day that I had claimed before Robb died was now something that still belonged to me when I felt like so very little was left. When there was nothing else I could do, I could write. And it became medicine for my soul. In the years since then, it has been a sacred place to return to since all of those memories have virtually disappeared from my mind. I can’t access that place anymore. If I had not written in those days and in those moments, then that season would be lost completely. I couldn’t go back and rewrite it now. It was raw and true then, and it was only mine to write in that season, in that year.

Did you have any particular readers in mind as you wrote And Life Comes Back? This book tells the story of what happens on the next morning, when the bottom has fallen out of your world, but the sun somehow rises the next day and you must go on. And the days keep coming, one after another, and you must continue. Such crises happen to people all the time: the death of someone they love or a diagnosis, a divorce, unemployment, broken dreams—and the world keeps spinning, the sun keeps shining, and we must each decide what to do next. This isn’t a “widow’s book.” This is a book for anyone who has looked into a mirror and thought with helplessness, “What on earth am I going to do now?”

What were some of the challenges in writing this book? There were three main challenges. The writing process required a lot of remembering: the greatest days of our marriage, the deepest struggles of our broken relationship, the honest journey through crippling depression, and even the details of watching his spirit slip through my fingers while I tried to save his life. My mind connects completely to whatever I am writing about, and sometimes it was very difficult to navigate the back-and-forth between remembering those days and living this one. Also, I couldn’t write the depth of the sadness I had felt because it’s an unspeakable, indescribable place. It’s too dark and too much, and nobody would want to read that book. Once I came to terms with the fact that the book would be lighter than the journey, once I had the freedom to not write to those depths, then I had an easier time telling the story. Third, the nature of writing a memoir is telling one’s own story, but this story belongs to so many people besides me. I scrutinized every word of each sentence to be sure that it honored Robb, portrayed my children safely and honestly, and told the truth the way I remembered it. That’s a lot of filters and calls for a lot of careful editing.

What helped you during the most difficult days following your husband’s death? A friend said to me, “Tricia, let’s set a date six months from now. Until that day, nobody is going to ask anything from you. You have no expectations to meet. Not a single one. Nowhere you have to be, nothing you have to do except take care of yourself and love your children. When that date arrives, then you can decide what you can do. Just know, right now all you need to do is take care of yourself and love your kids.” There was tremendous freedom in that gift. I went to Starbucks every morning, and I immersed myself in the book of Psalms. I read them and wrote them—verses or passages or whole chapters at a time. When I could not think, the psalms gave me words. When I could not pray, the psalms prayed for me. 

Who are “The Tuesdays” and what did they mean to your journey? The Tuesdays are four girlfriends who kept me from falling to pieces. They very truly saved my life. Jenno, Melody, Lisa and Melissa rallied together immediately, creating systems for groceries, housecleaning, childcare and meals. They knew that just because a girl wants to be alone doesn’t mean she should be, so they came to my house every Tuesday night. They brought coffee and dessert, laughter and joy, prayer and support, and they tucked me into bed before they left. Those are my girls. Forever, my girls.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading And Life Comes Back? Very truly, I hope you will find permission to feel however you feel, and especially the freedom to laugh. I hope you will find comfort in the truth and courage in the journey. Just take one more step. Just do the next thing that’s in front of you. Each day is only 24 hours long, and you can do this.