Confessions of a Children's Author

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Learning to Be Left-Handed

Well, I survived my mother's informal "memorial" in her hometown. Though "survived" is a relative term, since I've suffered through two migraines within a 48-hour period, and there have been times since I've gotten back that I've felt just as sad--if not moreso--as when my mother first died. Part of it was the natural emotions that got stirred up by being in her hometown and seeing a lot of her family and some old friends, but a lot of it was because this was the first trip that I've taken since her death, and the first time that I wasn't able to come home and tell her all about it.

I've realized the gravity of not having my mother here anymore, which, considering that I used to talk to her almost every day (sometimes more than once a day), is substantial. But it's like after this trip, I finally realized the finality of not being able to speak to my mother ever. To not be able to tell her about the people I saw, or the food I ate or the places we went to--all the things I seemed to take for granted before--well, it's inconceivable to me. Additional things making it hard: visiting a friend of mine from high school who just had a baby, and wondering how in the world I'll be able to have a baby without being able to ask my mom the myriad of questions I know I'll have; seeing landscaped yards and thinking about how I can't wait to have a house and garden of my own and knowing that my mother won't see the home my husband and I will make for ourselves; and hearing family stories and not being able to confirm the events with my mother or be able to tell her a story I'd never heard before.

Sometimes I want to scream "I don't know how to do this! I don't know how to live without my mother being there, even in the background!", and that is the problem in a nutshell--I've never had to before. When I was about twelve years old, my family was on a trip somewhere, and I remember being with my parents in an arcade. Either my parents were playing a game together, or my father was playing with my brother and my mother was watching, and I remember standing there, watching them, when this realization came over me that someday my parents won't be here, and a wave of incredible sadness washed over me. I moped for the rest of the day, until my mother asked me what was wrong, and I reluctantly told her. She sort of chuckled, then told me I wouldn't have to worry about that for a long time. Who knew that the something I'd been dreading for years would happen so much sooner than any of us thought it would?

So, here I am, learning how to live without my maternal guru. If I had a cooking question, I'd call my mother. If I saw a bird I couldn't identify, I'd call my mother. If I was feeling blue and needed a sympathetic shoulder, I'd call my mother. If I'd written a new chapter, I'd email my mother. And now I can't do that. As I told someone yesterday, it's like I suddenly have to live my life doing everything left-handed--it's incredibly difficult, and uncomfortable, and frustrating, and sometimes painful, but I don't have a choice, it's just what I have to do. All I can do for now is try...


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