List # 4
Things I had to be while Mum was dying and for the week afterwards.
- A rock
- A mediator
- A big sister
- A writer
- An organiser
Personal note # 5
Noticeably absent from list # 4 is ‘A daughter’.
Pennebaker and Seagal suggest that:
Once an experience has structure and meaning, it would follow that the emotional effects of that experience are more manageable. Constructing stories facilitates a sense of resolution, which results in less rumination and eventually allows disturbing experiences to subside gradually from conscious thought.
After Mum’s death that spark in my right eye supernovaed. As a newly formed black hole it devoured me. Trapped in darkness, I was either untethered, all the cords cut, floating, or I was stitched through Mum and knotted tight. I was often caught in loops, trapped by her bedside, until I remembered. I remember she is ash. I remember to breathe. I claw my way out.
Personal note # 6
I have learned that she was my moon, my mother: everything I’ve done has been in spite of, instead of, and because of her gravity.
Pennebaker says that the therapeutic value of ‘catharsis or the venting of emotions [without] cognitive processing’ is minimal and that you need to ‘build a coherent narrative that explains some past experience in order to benefit from writing.’ Dan McAdams observes, that ‘both writing and healing require extremely hard work, not obviously the same hard work. If writing is healing, or if healing takes place through writing, it is, or does so, because the two processes cohere.’
List # 5
Things to accept
- shattered pieces remain
- experience won’t be excised
- therapeutic re-enactment is impossible
- there will be no witnesses
- some things stay in the dark.
I dreamt of Mum a little while ago. My sister and I were chatting and laughing with her, such a casual exchange. The lingering feeling upon waking was the opposite of an ache: you see, I hadn’t been on the periphery, looking in at that impenetrable space of belonging between them. I was in there with them.
Perhaps mine wasn’t a ‘Sehnsucht longing’. Perhaps my grief wasn’t borne of a speculative nostalgia. Maybe there are parallel worlds, and the finality of the full stop, the end of hope in this reality ruptured the space between this world and another for a brief moment. Perhaps it’s not just time that is labyrinthine but also reality. There could be infinite different versions of our selves. Perhaps my dream is where I leant against the wall at just the right spot and encountered another place where I have felt so deeply loved by Mum my entire life.