Personal note # 1
My everyday disposition is melancholy.
What I am doing?
James Pennebaker, a leading researcher in the field of therapeutic writing says, ‘When people write about major upheavals, they begin to organize and understand them.’
Is this therapy?
List # 1
Observations of the sweet and mundane ways mothers show their daughters love
- cut lunches
- celery sticks and apricot halves
- warm smiles, eyes crinkling with delight as she looks at her daughter
- that soft voice
- the gentle and reassuring touches
- the enveloping hugs
- that impenetrable space of belonging between them both
- her fierce instinct to protect her child.
There are advice columns dedicated to the club you join after losing a mother that list common triggers for grief, like nappy commercials, Mother’s Day sales, seeing a mother and kid at the park, and I can’t join their club. I asked the screen as I scrolled, ‘How do you grieve for the loss of something you never had?’
When my sister asked if I’d visit Mum I said, ‘No.’
List # 2
What I didn’t tell her
- I needed the geographical distance from Mum’s all-consuming, unyielding denial of me
- I’d moved to the other side of the country to stop smelling Mum’s perfume, hearing Mum’s footfall
- I’d carved Mum into small two-dimensional pieces in my books to find my own footing, hear my voice
- ‘Mummy is a soft wall that hurts me.’
Judith Harris says, ‘Stories exist to make order out of chaos, to structure and organize experiences into something separate from the events that first induced painful and chaotic emotions.’ Can I excise this experience?
In the months following my sister’s call, I felt trapped within an accordion: time, space, thoughts, memories, contracted and expanded. I would often swell like a fat balloon of emotions, unable to name a single one. In the mirror, I saw the sparkle in my right eye fading and asked if there is a tiny sun in each person’s eye, a spark of life from our birth parents? Would the sun in my right eye burn out when Mum died? Are orphans’ eyes dull?
Personal note # 2
When I am having a bad day I cry (with such futility) for my mummy.
GRIEF noun \ ˈgrēf \
- deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement: her grief over her mother’s death? Synonyms – affliction, anguish, heartache, melancholy, sorrow, woe