Reading has been hard for me since my mother died last May.
Part of it, I know, is because I associate reading with her. My mother was not a great reader, but she insisted I become one. She read to me all the time as a child, and as soon as I could read myself, I devoured books. I received book shopping sprees with each straight-A report card, and in the 80s, $50 could do some mean business in Waldenbooks.
Words are my life, my passion. I read books and write books for a living. I’m a professor of literature, and still, I struggle to get through novels for enjoyment.
To read for school? I do it, because I have to. I can’t not read for school; it’s my job. But for enjoyment? Every page is a torment, every percentage on the Kindle hard-fought for.
I’ve spoken to my psychologist about it, and we both agree I need to shut off my brain, which has been impossible since Mom died. I have so many other things roiling just under the surface that I can’t seem to concentrate.
And then, of course, if I do, I feel guilty, as if I am betraying her memory in some way. By not thinking about her. By doing something pleasurable for myself.
I want my words back. I want them all. I want this guilt to fade and the love to remain in its place.