For the last 13 years, Rebecca has shared what real life is like, the “raw unrelenting truth about this life in all its unpredictable, hideously unfair, gloriously enlightened glory” in this current climate with a family, including the last devastating four months after her husband Hal’s surprise diagnosis with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
It’s an extraordinary thing that we live in a world where you can grieve so deeply for a family you’ve never met, only known on screens. That you have come to follow along for so long with real people throughout their real lives, including right until the end of them. That people (bless them) share these real, everyday stories every day.
They say personal blogging is dead and I’m sure it is from an economic perspective, but personal stories will never die. It’s why, I suppose, that reality TV and following people on Instagram are such massive industries – we all just want to see how other people really live. Fictional escapism is fun but at the end of the day we all want to know what Nicole Kidman actually eats for breakfast in real life.
I for one, am so very grateful that people do share the bits and pieces of their lives – I find it far more fascinating and entertaining and inspirational and realistic than other forms of media I could be consuming. I at times wish I hadn’t gone through the phase I did where I couldn’t get the words out I wanted to say – fear of judgement I wasn’t in the headspace to deal with meant I self-silenced to the point where nothing came out at all, not even fluff. What would I have said all that time if I thought nobody was reading?
But people do read. I read. Blogging goes two ways and there is a living, breathing mass of people on the other side ready to interact with what you’ve written. This could absolutely go either way and you really do never know what reactions you’ll get, good or bad (the bad often takes you by surprise and knocks the wind out of your sails for a bit), so I’m not sad I clammed up until I was ready. It was the right thing for me at the time. I never stopped reading, though, not for a second.
I’m coming up on my ninth year in this space, owning my story and saving it to read another day. I used to wonder why I did it so publicly, but the truth is I’ll never know. It’s a compulsion. It’s a thing. I’ve tried to stop and I can’t. I don’t want to. I’ve never done it for attention or fame and some may say then if I’m not doing it for that then why bother, but fuck it, why bother doing anything? We’re social creatures and stories drive us. We’re here to share and to listen. May we always keep writing and reading the stories of our very real lives.
Part of Rebecca’s stories (and what she does so well ) is dismantling society’s expectations about what women deserve and how little girls should behave. She has always been so candid about how motherhood changed her and continued to challenge her, and how hard it was sometimes to have a happy marriage in amongst it all.
So vale, Hal. I’m glad I got to know your story alongside those of your family. I’m a better person for knowing them.