I have been grieving for Mum my entire life. I have nursed a kind of speculative nostalgia. This desperate longing for an imaginary relationship with my mother may find meaning in the German word, sehnsucht. In The Weight of Glory C S Lewis refers to ‘Sehnsucht longing’ as a ‘desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience.’ It is a deep aching, yearning, for an absolute and ineffable fiction.
Personal note # 3
I have a good imagination.
I was at Mum’s bedside in her final days, precariously balancing my sister on my hip. Mum’s visceral unbecoming, my sister’s pain and loss: a cyclone shredding everything but me, in the eye of it.
Personal note # 4
When I wrote my first two autobiographies I, unsuccessfully, tried to tell the story of my mother and my self; I encountered an impenetrable ball of knotted fleshy thread, with nowhere to start and no end.
Scriptotherapy, according to Suzette Henke, is ‘the process of writing through traumatic experience in the mode of therapeutic re-enactment … the authorial effort to reconstruct a story of psychological debilitation [which] could offer potential for mental healing and begin to alleviate persistent symptoms.’
List # 3
Things you can’t talk about regarding Mum dying.
- How her breath sounded
- How she would only look at your sister
- How fragile she was
- How the nurses admired and respected her
- How Mum must have told the nurses some big whoppers
- How she wouldn’t let go even though her body wanted to
- How your sister was
- How powerless you felt
- How your mother’s family was afterwards
- How alone you felt
People suggest you make your peace with the dying, say your final words. On the second-last night, my sister went to the toilet. It was just Mum and me. I wasn’t even sure if she could hear as I whispered, ‘I believe you might have had undiagnosed postnatal depression, and that’s why you couldn’t love me.’