This is supposed to be the second blog about writing and creativity today, but I am sidetracked by things I’ve been reading about grief, about how we force our children to Learn and Achieve when what they need is to be Seen and Loved. I’m derailed by my three year-old son’s sweaty nape at naptime, how he pulls me in close for a big kiss and several hugs—actions that already feel fleeting…(how long does a boy want his mama to cuddle him?); the way he comes wandering down the hallway looking for his “baby kitty” so he can nap safely. I’m remembering my own brother, similarly a sweet little tow-head at the same age, waking teenaged me up by banging loudly on my bedroom door with our younger sister, barely out of infanthood herself, that final year I lived at home. How short the window of time when we were a family, living in the same space, sharing meals, and how, as an only child most of my life, all I ever wanted were siblings to ease my own disorientation. The ones I got came after my childhood was almost completely cemented; they were still sucking binkies when I went off to college, and in the same way, I spent much of their childhoods waiting for them to be “of age” so we could “relate” the way I imagined siblings do.
And of course, none of it has played out as I imagined. In one way, I feel lucky, in another, I feel immense sadness.
In general I’m feeling a little bit slayed by how at the same time as you love your children, and family, the fear of their loss is invoked (and for people close to me, that loss has even been realized in ways I can’t imagine). Every year of my son’s life I am learning (often in very hard ways) that what really matters is being present for life as it unfolds. That not every conflict will be resolved; that not every grief will be calmed by time; that not every wound will be amended. That if the bulk of my days is spent in activities like drawing crayola colored “spirans” (spirals) for my son and playing robots (or the ever-aging equivalents of these), eating guacamole around a table full of my friends as we commiserate about things that are hard, laugh about what is ironic, or sit in my darkened living room with my husband watching streaming documentaries on Netflix—this is a full life.
I used to think writing was a tool I’d been given to go out into the world and “make something of myself.” After all, it came in handy in places of learning to know how to write, indeed to LOVE to write. I’ve suffered the most anguish in disappointments of the ego, where my lauded talent “failed” to garner me whatever it was I believed it was meant to do.
Lately I’ve come to realize writing is a necessary force for understanding grief’s codes, for feeling purposeful when we otherwise struggle to. Many of us seek out story-making and –telling if for no other reason than to carve out sense and structure inside what could easily sweep us up and away in a storm of its own making. Perhaps the best reason to write of all.