Friday, November 20, 2009

Tonight I started writing

I've thought about writing a lot, and here's the funny thing: Thinking about writing doesn't make you a writer.

Profound, right?

Like most other things I do and enjoy, I don't consider myself an especially gifted writer. I don't dream up stories of suspense or fantasy and I can't imagine why anyone would want to read my thoughts or opinions or recollections. I share those here mostly for the benefit of my daughter, because I don't want to leave her with all the unanswered questions that my mother left me.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Mom. In May she will be gone for five years. It seems unimaginable. Even though those days feel like they have only just passed, the truth is that life has been impossibly full for my bother, sister and me. Mine alone has experienced Sara's birth, Dad's illness and death, a new job, hard lessons in marriage, and a soul-crushing home renovation that I swear I might turn into a Wagnerian opera one day. (I think I'll start wearing the Brünnhilde horns around the house for a little inspiration.)

Time was supposed to be the thing that helped me make peace with Mom's death. But here I sit, four and a half years later, reliving the night that we said goodbye to her while tucking my daughter into bed. It's just as real now as it was that evening -- and let me tell you, I wasn't all that wild about it the first time around. Death, my friends, is for the birds.

So I'm going back to an old technique that someone suggested to me several years ago, one I've tried before with a fair degree of success: I'm writing it out. I'm going to take it out of my heart and put it to the page, where it can stay forever safe but not rise up to choke me when I least expect it. Death and dying may have a grip on me, but to be honest in many ways Mom's final days were more than most people could hope for. She was surrounded by so many people that she loved and died holding the hands of her children. We were all so lucky, really.

But lucky is not how I feel when I am in the throes of remembering it all. "Feeling lucky" is actually probably way too much to ask for. Maybe I can aim for "grateful," or "at peace" or even "OK." I will happily take any one of them.

Through this process I hope not only to get the sharpness of grief out of my system but also to gather together my memories of her so I never forget that Mom was more than just her death. I don't want to forget who she really was because I want Sara to know her namesake. She has big shoes to fill, my little girl -- and I don't just mean Mom's size 10s. Our mother, though she never would have recognized it, has a story to tell and I think it's a good one. And so, I'm going to try and tell it.

Tonight I stopped thinking and started writing. For me and for Sara, and for the story Mom had to tell. I hope I can do it justice. And who knows? Maybe this will make a writer out of me yet.

No comments: