treading water

It is the week of Mother’s Day and you know what that means:

  • liquor store runs 
  • piecing together puzzles at my dining room table to keep my hands busy
  • making plans with people, even though I’m an introvert and the noise of crowds and the pressure of conversation aggravates me 
  • because I’m afraid to be alone, afraid to curl so far into myself that the pain suffocates me. 

Today, I talked to a friend about our lost daughters. About how every day, their absence is a part of us. About how life goes on, but it’s not in the way we wanted it to and how that eats us, gnaws us to bits. How our realities don’t seem right to us even though they are good. How we live partially, one foot in a life we never had.

Then tonight, I took a bath and read Lidia Yuknavitch, one of my heroes:

When I tell you that literature and writing have saved my life, perhaps you can believe me when I say they came into my body and lodged in the space that my daughter left open. 

I jumped out of the bath because suddenly, I wanted to write. 

If you are one of those people who has the ability to make it down to the bottom of the ocean, the ability to swim the dark waters without fear, the astonishing ability to move through life’s worst crucibles and not die, then you also have the ability to bring something back to the surface that helps others in a way that they cannot achieve themselves.

Last fall, I wrote a manuscript of letters to my daughter. In doing so, I laid myself bare. I told the secrets I’ve kept. I put a shape to my pain. I couldn’t tell you then why I did it, certainly couldn’t tell you while I was writing it and I cried and sweated everything out of my body.  But now I know it was my bringing something back to the surface; this surface I’ve kept my head above all these years. Making art has kept me from drowning myself.

I have stayed afloat for these children of mine: both in spite of them and because of them. One day, I hope it helps others.

In the meantime, vodka and more writing.

(Italicized quotes, again, are from the OG herself Lidia Yuknavitch)

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