A reader writes,
“Martha, maybe it is time to stop thinking about your Mom’s life and start thinking about yours. Write about your life, not hers. Mom had her 102 years and I think she would be saddened to know that you are not opening your life to possibility. Mom is not there to share the music, but your husband, children and friends are. Live in the present.”
My first response was, yes, I agree. But the more I think about it, it’s always been about my life. It’s been my story–my life with mom, my life taking care of mom. What it was like anticipating and tending to her needs and often, sublimating my own needs for hers. I was the rock star manager, living in the star’s shadow. I wrote to make sure I didn’t disappear.
But perhaps I did anyway. It was my story. Or was it?
Now that the lights have gone out and the star is gone, grief is not so interesting. The story was the star. And readership reflects that.
Now that I no longer live in the shadow of the star, I seek definition. What do I write about if I am to continue this blog?
In a previous blog, the precursor to this one, I wrote about my garden. The past two years it was bountiful. This year, it’s war. The earwigs have mowed down the new carrots, kale and broccoli (nothing left). The squash bugs are feasting on the fresh leaves of my squash and cantaloupe and for the first time ever in my life of gardening, the top of the pea vines, with fresh new blossoms, are being devoured, almost before my eyes. I use organic methods, but so far nothing is working.
Yawn. There are at least half a million gardening blogs.
When I wrote a column for a local weekly newspaper my growing relationship with my husband-to-be was rich and amusing fodder. We’ve been married five years and although it’s good and lovely, there’s not really much to write about.
I used to talk about planning travels. We went to Nova Scotia and I wrote about exploring cemeteries in search of ancestral gravesites. We are going sailing in September for a week. I want to go to England and Alaska and to some South Pacific Island. Those plans are not yet defined.
I’ve written about my son before. He has a degree in business, is a musician and works for an ice cream company in Seattle. He has a beautiful girlfriend and next week he’s going to a wedding in Anchorage. No grandchildren.
How about the dog?
Last night we didn’t put her in the kennel. Husband likes to let her be free. This morning when I awoke, said dog was sleeping on the bed in the other bedroom…stretched out on her back, in full relaxed glory.
It’s a beautiful day in Washington….
Husband is making breakfast….
The past two Saturdays I photographed a wedding.
I recently watched “We Live in Public,” a disturbing movie about how public our lives have become. The question: how much do we share and how much of it does anyone really care about?
Who really cares whether or not my peas are being devoured, my dog slept on the bed, my son works for an ice cream company? Mom was more interesting.
July 4 is America’s Independence Day. It will be four months exactly since mom died. Perhaps it will be a good day to declare my independence. From what? –thinking/writing/obsessing/grieving/ about mom?
I miss her. But the hard edge is becoming softer. I grieve. I am emotional and sometimes people don’t know what to do when I tell a story and begin to weep. But it’s less.
I’m also still processing a lifetime of experience with this one person, with my family, coming to understand things I didn’t before. Life with her was complex, rich, difficult, heartbreaking, frustrating, lovely, and exhausting.
But now it’s my turn. The definitions are many, but just a few: to pass from one state to another…to become changed, altered, or transformed,…to direct one’s attention away from someone or something,..to reverse one’s course of action.
It really is about creating an interesting life without the drama of taking care of mom.
And, do I write about it?
An impasse? Perhaps. Or, better, simply a turning, an altering of course.
In the process, maybe I’ll become my own star.