Let myself introduce… er… myself…
Okay, the customary stuff first– My name is April Kolman. I’ve been married to Ryan since 2003, and we have two adorable kids- Mason and Claire. Our dog’s name is Sirius because we are huge Harry Potter Nerds, and we live in Boise, Idaho, although Ryan and I grew up in Orange County, CA. We moved to Boise after we’d been married a few years looking for a slower pace of life and a life we could actually afford. Boise offered us all that and more; we love it. I was a K-8 public school teacher and adjunct faculty member at the local university before becoming a full-time Stay At Home Mom. And I’m a writer.
Now for the slightly less customary– I homeschool my two kids in a very eclectic, unschool-y fashion. They’re both brilliant and flourishing. We live with four generations under one roof- my kids, Ryan and me, my mom and her mom. We lost our 7th roommate in January of 2019, when my grandpa (Papa) passed away after a whirlwind battle with cancer.
Not to sound too cliche, but I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I’d write short stories about anything and everything. I loved stories that had a strong sense of justice. The #booknerdlife found me early and has never released its sweet grip. I never stopped reading, but somewhere along the way, writing seemed like an indulgence I didn’t really have time for… I needed to be a grown up and do grown up things and focus on my grown up job. So writing slipped away… until, I simply had to write.
2018 found me completely broken. My father had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, and shortly after, my Papa (whom I helped care for, as much as he’d allow me anyway) started to have failing health, which led to a brief but heartwrenching and difficult road fraught with surgery, meningitis, and ultimately, terminal cancer. As I attempted to be strong for those around me, to stay on top of the doctor appointments, medications, home health care, and everything else that comes from caring for someone at the end of their life (although we didn’t know it was the end until the very end), as well as keep in touch with a sick dad who lived a thousand miles away, traveling, talking, prayingprayingpraying, I knew I needed something that would help me process.
I began to journal. It wasn’t like I even had a choice. Words poured out like an exhale after holding your breath for too long. I wrote about what was happening, about how it hurt, about the things I was grateful for, about the questions I had, about how none of it made sense. I wondered to my journal why all of this would happen to one family all at once. I scribbled thanks for the time we’d spent as a crazy multigenerational home (often lovingly referred to as a farm). In Papa’s last week, I wrote every day. Mostly jotting down notes of things I wanted to remember- how I cooked to calm down, how family showed up, how friends reached out, how we all gathered in his room with him, sometimes talking and joking like everything was fine, other times somber and tearful as the man we all loved slipped away from us.
After he passed, I took those notes and formed it into some cohesive piece, and I shared it with the world. Well, I shared it with social media. And I found something out. My words weren’t just for me. It was for them. And you. For us. And I started to see the power of writing down words, sharing truths and questions, connecting hearts.
And that’s how I became a writer. Because once I discovered the power of words to connect with others and with myself, I couldn’t stop.
God placed two crucial pieces in my path next: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and hope*writers. One a book that reflected back to me my own writer heart, the other a community of like-hearted (is that a word?) individuals who support and share and live the writing life together. I’d be lost without them both.
At my desk, I look at this quote every day, shared with me by a writer friend– “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” (from the incomparable Ms. Lamott)
I’m not sure I was born to write, but it’s helping me to live.