The Floors of Silent Seas

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas”
– T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

I am a creature who craves rhythm, progress, schedule, and order.  I don’t mind some disorder–my OCD does not extend to extreme cleaning or organization–and in fact, my writing process is rather untidy for someone with my diagnosis.  I am a sloppy writer; I often tell my students, when I urge them to find their own writing processes, that my process is simply, “Vomit on a page and revise for three years.”  That is, I am not beholden to the initial crafting.  I am, for all intents and purposes, a reviser.  I can be as sloppy as I want in drafts 1, 4, and even 12.  But as I start to close in, things become tighter, words more precise, sentences increasingly more structured.  As for daily life, I live by a To Do List.  I tried for over two years to hold myself to a rigid time schedule, but that initial sloppiness in my personality would not allow it.  Instead, I am beholden to a list of Things to Do.  It gives some of my chaos order.  It allows me to shift and shape my world.

I say this to remind you that I am a writer; I am also a reader.  I began reading early as a child, three or four is what I’ve been told.   But never, never in my life have I been without words.  They have followed me always and forever.  I would fall asleep with a book on my face as a child; I never went anywhere without a book; I loved my iPhone because I carried hundreds of books with me, wherever I went.  I was always reading; I was always writing.  Ever and always.  These are my two passions.

I have written nothing but blog entries since my mother passed.

I have read nothing since she died.

I don’t know why.  I’ve examined it from every angle.  Part of it is the work to be done.  There was a lot of paperwork to be dealt with, upon the unexpected death of someone you hold dear.  I was, in fact, surprised by the mountains of work to be done, beyond planning the funeral.

Part of it, too, I think, is guilt.  How can I resume my passion, a passion so instilled in me from birth by my mother, my mother, now that she is gone?  Is it dishonoring her by continuing on with the pastimes I love?  How do I move on from this pain?  This sorrow?  Is there any moving on, ever?

I told a friend recently, “It doesn’t get better, I don’t think.  It just becomes familiar.”

But even then, over two months after she’s died, it’s not familiar.  I sat down on July 4th to sort through her jewelry.  I put her wedding ring on my finger, and it only came to my first knuckle.  My mother was a tiny-boned woman, and I, as her adopted daughter, was not.  She loved that ring so much, and I sobbed, truly sobbed, looking at that tiny ring on my big, impossible hands.

It is not better.  Nor is it familiar.  It is nothing but a gaping hole.

I dream of her.  In my dreams, I beg her not to leave.  Over and over again, she comes to me in my dreams, and I wake, a silent scream caught in my throat.

Is this pain?  Is this mourning?  Is this constant and forever, now?

I am caught in two worlds, both of them Real.  I keep saying, “I need to return to the real world,” when I am with my father in New Orleans, and I say, “I need to return to the real world,” when I am with my husband in Indiana.  I don’t know what is real anymore.  I feel as if I have two lives that are never colliding, only growing infinitesimally closer to each other, never touching.

Perhaps it’s the fear of escape.  That’s why I can’t read, or write.  Or perhaps, I don’t want to associate something I love so dearly with something that hurts, so very much.  Whatever it is, it is a duality, this loss, these losses, my mother and my words.

I miss them both.


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