Saturday, January 9, 2010

dying to meet you . . . and other sayings

When I was much younger I used to listen to a recording my parents had of Dylan Thomas reading his poetry. My favorite was "Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

It will be five years this January 22nd since my father's death.

Now my mother is fading, her memory is shot. She is frail and weak. I will visit her today, having been away for two weeks. I dread seeing her. She's been transformed from this stolid, intense and powerful being to a terrified, anxious wreck. I miss the mother I lost, the one I fought hard to forge a relationship with, the one I spoke with every day by phone, the one who actually supported my writing career. The one who loved me for who I am, not who she hoped I would be. That woman is gone.

I think of how Muriel said that Amelia wouldn't have wanted to live too long, that she would have hated the changes time wrought. Some seem to take this as a reference to Amelia's vanity,but I believe it's not that simple. We age and we watch ourselves diminish incrementally, we lose those we love and lose pieces of what made us love ourselves. It's a vicious journey. Muriel outlived her mother, father, sister, husband and son. Who would want to face that much loss?

In my novel I want her losses to matter, to mean something more, I want to give Muriel what I am unable to give my mother, a reason to hope.


  1. My mother, who knew yours, died at 55. Much too young. But she would have detested the decay. But ultimately it's the thing that interests me as a writer: loss.

  2. Loss, death, disappearance are like huge Zen koans that stare us in the face every day of our lives. I recently came across this theory of "Negative Capability" put forth by John Keats in 1817, it was an intriguing short article on wikipedia. It comes to mind when I read your post because it's about our ability to be present with these unresolved mysteries. Which to me also echoes of a comment you made in your previous post saying that Amelia wasn't free from fear, but she was willing to go into fear.

  3. We grapple with our fears, or at least I grapple with mine and too often let them rule me. I wish I was braver, but sometimes I think that the bravest thing you can do is be honest. I try to stick to that and hope it's enough. Truly I wish I could save my own mother the pain she's going through, and the terror she lives with. But that's not in my power. Thanks for your comments.

  4. I think honesty takes tremendous courage, and I appreciate the honesty in your writing. I also feel often ruled by my fears, like a puppet pulled on strings. To me fear is a very constricting emotion- it shrivels my attention into a small space. I feel for you in having to see your mother live with terror, and being powerless to change that.