Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the one that's merely a blip

Today's Reverb 10 prompt is rather delicious, but I am going to hold onto it until I can make the space in my head and body for that sometimes difficult place where I make poem. I love Patti Digh, anyway. She's not much younger than I am, and though I suppose you could class her with the other self-help gurus on the Reverb 10 prompt-writing list, there is something less self-conscious about her approach.

She simply is.

Until I can clear that space (and I may not be able to until tomorrow), I will continue doing non-Reverb 10 related things. The novel, clearing out that corner of the living room so that we can actually put up a little tree, laundry. I need to order a Christmas gift for my Girl that I totally forgot to order. I had to break into her laptop and steal the links she'd saved. She saved them for me, actually. Made me feel like a dirty mutt to sneak onto her laptop, though she doesn't mind. She knows my views on privacy between a child and parent, knows I will not read things she hasn't invited me to read.

That's probably why she tells me almost everything.

Right, kid?

*

I want to tell you
because you don't know me
about this time of year
this maudlin
difficult
wrapping paper encrusted time of year.

I hate it because it's the time of year
when my mother died.
I cannot get past the green and red and sometimes shiny gold ornaments
that surround the memories of her failing
so sudden
but not
that wave of ancient grief
washes me to the edge of her last hospital bed
every time I walk through any mall
at this time of year.

breath
pain
intubation
sedation

twitch
flush
sleep
die

The first time my daughter got pneumonia,
she was 5. The second time, she was 11.
Despite the
lethargy
cough
fever
flushed cheeks
she was never in danger of dying of pneumonia
the way my mother did.

My daughter was due
on the first anniversary of my mother's death
(came three weeks early).
The first time my daughter met my mother
in the physical sense,
we were in the cemetery where my mother lay buried
deep down in the earth,
space above her reserved for my father.

My daughter was 2
and romped amongst the polished, military headstones,
tripping onto her chubby knees into the grass now and then.
She joined me at my mother's grave
and watched me trace the words
carved into marble
then patted the stone with a plump hand.
"Hello Grandmother!" she said.

*

ugh.

My process is sharp today, ugly and awkward. It's like swallowing shards of china. Oh. Crap. There's another connection in the image of cracked china.

Once Jan. 1 arrives, I am always fine. I am better this year than I have been in the past. But when a loved one dies during the holidays (just before Christmas), there is no getting around the reminders even after all these years, so many years. So many.

Sometimes I think I'm a fool to need my mother still at the age of 52. But I do. I was wondering a few days ago why I seem to miss my father more at times.

I think it's because I can't replace him with myself. I am a mother, so I can be my mother sometimes, can mother myself. But I can't be a father no matter how many ways I try to mold that puppy.

Oh. This breaks down into incoherent shit. If I were writing this at that "other" site where I've been writing for nearly 11 years, someone would tell me in an unsolicited advice sort of way, "You can be both your mother AND your father, you know. They aren't really gone. You hold them both in your heart."

Of course, that giver of unsolicited advice would be kind of right. Except ...

... just "except."

*

I, er, seem to have written this bilge directly into the post window again without thought or planning. Probably not the best way to work a blog.

We'll just call me a middle-aged anarchist.

4 comments:

  1. May your anarchy continue. Not a lot of writing can touch me enough to make me cry, but yours did.

    Hey, you're even making me glad I stumbled onto this reverb10 mess, cos I got to find your blog.

    And if it isn't too gross and inappropriate, may I offer you a cyber-hug?

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  2. Oh. Wow. Thank you. This is a great comment to read first thing in the morning. Thank you! I have been torn about Reverb10 between thinking it's distracting me from "real" stuff and being delighted that I've discovered some pretty charming blogging souls who write well. Like you.

    I hope that was coherent. I haven't had coffee yet.

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  3. My father died, many years ago, just a week before Christmas. I remember riding in the back seat of the town-car, following the hearse to the cemetery, and hearing Christmas carols playing on the radio. Still, year later, I cannot hear "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" without remembering that moment - my eyes always tear up (always good for the contact lenses, tho).

    This season is a double whammy, the first holiday with both of them gone. Hmmm.

    Such poignant images and thoughts and feelings in your post. Yours is my new favorite blog.

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  4. Beautiful, beautiful post. You captured the feeling of losing someone around the holidays perfectly and it brought tears to my eyes...literally. Today would have been my grandpa's birthday, the most wonderful and amazing man I have ever met who died just past Christmas over 7 years ago. Was just chance I stumbled on your blog and maybe I'm sentimental today but thank you for posting this. :)

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