Two possible reasons stand out: One, it’s too big, it defies the format, writing is how I figure things out, organize my thoughts, make sense of things, and this cannot be figured out, made sense of, organized. And two, in some fundamental way I feel like I don’t even know who I am without my mom, as an artist, but even more generally as a man, as a person.
As I move through the day, I find every mental thread has no origin. It just ends in mid-air at the thought, “But she’s not here anymore.” No anchors, no reference points. Those threads held my world together. I guess that mental process was involuntary, subconscious, or at least so habitual -- and complete -- that it didn’t usually register, because I was never so aware as I am now how I must have experienced everything as my mother’s son. And now it’s just me.
It’s not exactly correspondent to the brute sadness of the loss, which is intense and real, the longing that wells up and I want to just collapse and cry, but more like just a change in the order of the universe.
Since discovering, not as long ago as I might have wished, that my most effective, and affecting, writing was the closest to the bone, the stuff that hurt when it came out, that embarrassed me even sitting here alone typing, that those were the stories or the details within stories that “worked,” I have written about failure, about sex with strangers, about new love, STDs, a painful breakup, my marriage, skin diseases, fear of aging, fear of the gym.
I’ve grown to love this kind of intimate confessional writing because it calms my mind, and because it connects. In the sunshine and shared, the embarrassing, shameful, painful thoughts and experiences become less embarrassing, less shameful, less painful. And everybody apparently is full of shame and embarrassment and pain.
So I want badly to write about my mother’s death. But I don’t want to share my thoughts until I feel more sure of them. I’m as far from sure as I could be.