When police officers showed up at Jackie Moore’s door in the middle of one night, she didn’t even think to consider the worst. Someone must have broken into her old house, she thought.
When she heard the officers say her older son’s name, that quickly changed. She pushed her husband out of the way and got the news directly from the Oak Park police: Jordan Moore-Fields was dead. The Amherst College sophomore and 2007 OPRF high school graduate had been killed in a car crash in Massachusetts, returning to school on a Sunday night with three friends.
That October night in 2008, Moore, 47, began expressing her feelings in writing. At first, it was private and purely cathartic. She wrote about all kinds of things, but all of them tied back to Jordan, her firstborn of four children – the 19-year-old she lost.
“I started writing to not go crazy,” she said. “Grief is so powerful, and I was just having so many feelings of loss and longing and missing my child.”
After a while, those feelings were bubbling about inside her, and Moore needed an outlet for them. She found it in a curious, beautiful and decidedly 21st-century way: a journal on the Internet.
Michele Weldon, an author in River Forest whose son went to school with Jordan, was one of the few friends with whom Moore first shared her writings. It was Weldon who encouraged Moore to put her writing out in the world.
“I think she really had all the tools – she’s a very thoughtful and articulate woman, and she just needed a push,” says Weldon, who teaches at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “Rather than just keep these writings private, the impact can be so great on people who have suffered a similar loss who don’t have the talent that she does.”
As “alwaysmomof4,” Moore began a blog, posting her thoughts online. She quickly found the process rewarding.
“I’ve always written and never put anything forth in this way, in such a public medium,” she said. “I’d rather it be about anything else, God knows, but just to have other people say his name is just very powerful for me. And that they know him, and that they can appreciate him and walk up to me and say, “I know who your son is” – that’s the most gratifying part of writing,” Moore says.
That power is something that, according to Weldon, is best tapped into right away.
“The immediacy of a blog is really important. It’s when emotions are hot and issues accessible,” Weldon says. “Having written a book, the lag time between writing and getting it out there can be years. That lag time could really dilute the power.”
That power has drawn readers – and commenters – on almost every single one of her posts, creating an online support group.
“Writing has been a huge part for me of feeling sane, and a path to feeling connected with the world,” Moore says. “I’ve been given so much with the comments that I get from people on my blog who I’ve never met before, but they’ve lost children as well.”
8:39 p.m. April 13, 2010
There are days when the only way I know how to make it through is to pretend that Jordan is away at school. I get through the day by telling myself that he would be away at school not at home now anyway. This tactic helps me not to miss him so much. There are days when this strategy isn’t enough. I sometimes make it through with him living his dream of spending a semester in London. I imagine the conversations we would have and how I would vicariously enjoy his time there through him regaling his exploits and adventures.
There are other days when no matter how hard I try I can’t summon the energy to pretend. Grief lies right under the surface of my skin, undulating with sparks that threaten to make me cry out. I wonder as I make it through the day if I’m finally reaching the point where breakdown with all its screaming, pounding force will take over. I don’t trust myself to breathe in too deeply for fear that I won’t release the breath or worse the release will be a scream. How did I get to such a place? I wonder most days how life took such an unimaginable turn. My son is gone and it takes all of my strength to remember that I’m still here to do more than grieve. Pain comes in many forms. Grief hurts.
Comment – 12:15 p.m. May 14, 2010
Your honesty is a gift. How many people, might see themselves in your words, and feel less alone in their struggles, because of it? While you are weary, you are strong. You are willing to delve into this deep and most personal of pains, put it into words, and give it to the world. Our world teaches us to be ashamed of being human. We learn to hide our vulnerabilities, our sadness, our horrors. We are embarrassed when we cry. We dare not admit that we have been wounded les we be deemed weak. Well, your journal proves just the opposite to be so. Your strength comes through every vulnerable, aching word you share. And though you may feel very close to the edge as you live these words, know that every time you share your life through your blog, you are helping other grieving, broken hearts, to hold on, and keep going.