Because I’m tried of mean politics delivered in gosh darn accents, because the stock market and depression talk of last week scared me (the cats say it scared everybody), because friends did something so kind and heartfelt I haven’t words for it yet, because I feel rudderless and writing the ending of this fourth book is hard, because I feel empty today………I offer an old journal entry.
The writing prompt was from a workshop in which there was a reading about life putting bags of gold in one’s path. The question was, did you recognize them or not.
My response: I’m in my bathroom, which is connected to my bedroom, and I can hear my sister very clearly as she speaks to her two young daughters. What do you do if Daddy is sad? she asks. We hug him, they answer. Yes, you give him a big old hug, she responds. Hugs cure anything.
I look around the bathroom, at towels, toothpaste, some spiritual saying on the wall. The moment is frozen. It’s a saber-toothed tiger of a moment, a mastadon wrapped in deep glacier ice, the glacier of all that is happening. For my sister is dying, and we all know it–her, me, her children, our brothers and sisters, our children, our mother. The cancer, dorment for six precious years, has metastasized in her brain and lungs.
She seems normal now, but in six months from this moment, we’ll go to her funeral service on an appropriately cold and rainy day.
Grief is in me–only I don’t yet recognize its full face–and later, when I name it, love will follow, and I’ll say the love and see my sister model nothing else in her last months.
Poems will come later, slipping out of me like easy births. Grief for her will push me to new tenderness and depth. Do I know this in that suspended moment in my bathroom? I know there’s gold but all I can feel is pain–later the gold will be made shiny with tears and regrets from my deepest heart.
Writing tip: Don’t be afraid of griefs or joys. Write them. Explore them. Give them to characters. My sister died in 1995. In 2006, when I wrote a certain death scene, I realized that I was yet again writing my experience in her dying, the wound clean finally but not yet healed, pink tender still.