coming to terms.

when i purchased the stone diaries for my mother, i didn’t realize the book was a bildungsroman where the main character’s mother died during childbirth. i only knew that she had enjoyed a few of shields’s other books (unless and swann are beside me on the shelf) and that shields herself died of cancer (breast). also, the book was only a dollar at edward mckay’s.

i don’t think she ever read it, receiving it just a month before her death, but i wanted to isolate one section, spoken by (the character) labina anythony green dukes:

i held my tongue and tried not to scold or fret too much over the things she’d do. i’d say to myself, remember this poor child is motherless, and there’s not one thing worse in this world than being motherless

i know i’ve talked before about the concept of being an orphan, growing old enough to, in a sense, be my mother’s mother, and, as her biographer, so to speak, being the one people rely on for the story behind her life. i’ve written at length about the way our legacy changes once we die, with some uplifting us to pedestals we have never reached (and would be uncomfortable to reach) and others (this is where i, hopefully, come in) clinging to veracity, attempting to stay as close to reality, even when it is stinging.

i would love to give you a review of the book but anything i write would be filtered through loss and tainted by grief. obviously it can be argued — and i would not win this argument — that art is always shaped by experience, but still i don’t really want to talk about the book, okay?

i think i want to talk about my mother. it’s been slightly over a year and a half since she died. sometimes it feels like she died during childbirth, my memories of her foggy and made up from stories my family has told me, at other times — more frequently — it feels like it happened yesterday or is continuing to happen, playing on repeat to relive continuously.

while my mom was dying i sought comfort wherever i could get it, mostly in the wrong sources, mostly in dangerous places, because, so my flawed thinking went, if, for example, i was held at gunpoint with only a slight possibility of surviving, perhaps i’ll concentrate on that and not on the fact that my mother is strapped to machines, progressing quickly toward death.

for a long time afterward, i continued, keeping people at a distance, thinking that if i didn’t let myself become vulnerable, thinking that if i didn’t grow attached to anyone, then i could never possibly feel that amount of pain again.

i was wrong. you grow close to people even if it’s not your intention. we’re like stones, over time tiny cracks form and water freezes inside those cracks and the cracks become larger. it doesn’t make you a failure to confide in people and show that you are not as strong as you’ve let on. not that it makes you a success to confide only in the four people that consistently read your blog, but i’m just saying.

i guess i’ve recognized a lot of things lately, over the last few months, and i’ve tried to quickly fix those things without asking anyone for help. maybe it’s time. maybe the people i have hurt along the way can forgive me for not being strong enough to tell them the truth in the first place and being too stubborn to speak to someone who could help me.

i know i’m being vague, but some of you know what i’m alluding to, and others can at least glean some form of advice, a primer for how to act, or a moral behind the fable. but i’m not asking anyone to make excuses for me, to restrain from scolding merely because i’ve been left motherless.

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One Response to “coming to terms.”

  1. Beth Says:

    I hope you let the people around you help you deal with this rather than dealing with it they way I did (alcohol. lots of alcohol. slowly ruined my life, alienated friends/family, now i’m totally alone, etc.).

    It’s way too easy to shut people out and realize 20 years later that you have become a person nobody would miss. Doesn’t sound like you are headed that way. Hope you never do.

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