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In memory of my second mother

Apologies for the continuous radio silence in these here parts. Various things have been going on (overwork and tension mostly) and I have had not the luxury of the computer time (when your boss sits behind you at work it really sabotages one's love affair with the blogging). There's been some sadness, and illness, and dead rodentia in the garden and I'm all menstrual but it doesn't obscure the joy of cats and Z getting his papers and miss_newham and hoshuteki dropping by for visits.

Lately, I've been thinking about a number of things most of them political, about which there will be more at another time (such as say, when my boss goes on holiday) but right now a brief and personal note.

The woman who was like another mother to me died a few months ago and the grief of that loss comes upon me intermittently, unexpectedly, in waves. I felt little sadness at hearing of her death because of my beliefs that the spirit continues to live on and that in death all pain stops. I grieved though for the family she left behind, particularly my friend, her son because I know how close they were.

But I do grieve for her illness. It was not exactly a surprise that she had cancer (smoking like a chimney and eating no vegetables really is not a recipe for longevity) but that didn't make me any less fucking sorry that it was the case. And I still feel so sorry for the fact that she got ill, and went through the brutal treatments for her illness, and that she began to lose her breath and her words and the latter particularly made her sad for she was an eloquent, articulate, well-read woman.

My mother and she were close friends and I was glad that my mother was there for her and her family, that she could be. I wasn't really though because my second mother was always very keen to shield me from her disease, to keep me outside of it, and I tried to respect that. We compartmentalised our grief, we skated around Cancer Talk, we shared good times and our silences were rich with care and meaning. I do not have any regrets, only sadness for her and her family.

And today I came across a poem that touched the raw places, and that made me cling to Z like a monkey while I sobbed my heart out on his shoulder. So in memory of that woman I loved, and all the things about her illness that I couldn't or didn't know how to say, here is Emigration by Tony Hoagland

Try being sick for a year,
then having that year turn into two,
until the memory of your health is like an island
going out of sight behind you

and you sail on in twilight,
with the sound of waves.
It's not a dream. You pass
through waiting rooms and clinics

until the very sky seems pharmaceutical,
and the faces of the doctors are your stars
whose smile or frown
means to hurry and get well

or die.
And because illness feels like punishment,
an enormous effort to be good
comes out of you --
like the good behavior of a child

desperate to appease
the invisible parents of this world.
And when that fails,
there is an orb of anger

rising like the sun above
the mind afraid of death,
and then a lake of grief, staining everything below,
and then a holding action of neurotic vigilance

and then a recitation of the history
of second chances.
And the illusions keep on coming,
and fading out, and coming on again

while your skin turns yellow from the medicine,
your ankles swell like dough above your shoes,
and you stop wanting to make love
because there is no love in you,

only a desire to be done.
But you're not done.
Your bags are packed
and you are traveling.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
prophetessamy
Aug. 11th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
that poem. wow. my whole body just sank. wow.
I'm so sorry for your hurt.
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, that poem really struck a chord with me when I read it. I'm all right, I'm just... processing.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
hehehe, How To Misplace Important Parental Figures like hairclips by Nina and Ally. ;)

That poem totally made me shiver and cry and wish I'd written it.

I love you and I miss you.
dubaiyan
Aug. 11th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
*saves poem*
Condolences for your loss.
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
Re: *saves poem*
*points you in the direction of the Louise Gluck poem actually_not left in her comment for added poignancy and more other damn bastards putting things into words more elegantly than me.
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: *saves poem*
Also, thank you for your thoughts.
actually_not
Aug. 11th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
A Fantasy
Louise Glück

I'll tell you something: every day
people are dying. And that's just the beginning.
Every day, in funeral homes, new widows are born,
new orphans. They sit with their hands folded,
trying to decide about this new life.

Then they're in the cemetery, some of them
for the first time. They're frightened of crying,
sometimes of not crying. Someone leans over,
tells them what to do next, which might mean
saying a few words, sometimes
throwing dirt in the open grave.

And after that, everyone goes back to the house,
which is suddenly full of visitors.
The widow sits on the couch, very stately,
so people line up to approach her,
sometimes take her hand, sometimes embrace her.
She finds something to say to everbody,
thanks them, thanks them for coming.

In her heart, she wants them to go away.
She wants to be back in the cemetery,
back in the sickroom, the hospital. She knows
it isn't possible. But it's her only hope,
the wish to move backward. And just a little,
not so far as the marriage, the first kiss.
yogioflight
Aug. 17th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
"...the wish to move backwards..." This was my mothers experience, when losing my father, she wanted with all her heart to go back "just a little" to when he was in a hospital bed at deaths door, and in the hospital she wanted to go back to when he was in a wheel chair unable to speak, and when he was in the wheel chair she wanted to go back to when he could use his walking frame. O my God, my heart aches for her pain and i have moist eyes typing this..... thank you for posting this, we don't know eachother, I just happened to find this by chance.... a zen saying comes to mind, "People generally have to wait until their times of difficulty are over to realise that there is a bright side to such things. If one can have perception at the moment, then summer has its advantage and winter is also wonderful."....
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's haunting. And so true.

(on an unrelated note, I love your icon)
actually_not
Aug. 24th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you :-)

Louise Gluck writes beautiful poetry. There are lots more here if you're interested. Hope you are feeling better.
elf_awareness
Aug. 12th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
Hey. I'd been thinking about you and Z and the kitties.

If you need me, I'm still around.
Meet me by the tree.
rainsinger
Aug. 24th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
:)

I'm all right really, just still in the throes of my quiet time.

How are you? What's up in your life?
elf_awareness
Aug. 24th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
I don't know if this will post twice
I have no doubt you're alright. You'll work everything out in your own time.

I guess I'm steady... wether that's good or bad, I don't know yet. It seems all signs are pointing me to a time of quiet of my own. There just seems to be more of me all the time. Or less as the case may be.(I am SO glad I don't get all crytic anymore!)

On lighter notes, I am enjoying the hell out of the Sirius radio Rolling Stones channel.
My own melodies are gettin stronger on guitar.
As I wrote some of that just now I became aware of an ant cleaning her face, sitting on my left pointer finger. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I don't know if you still IM. But sometimes I am around on IM under Bowmanderf.

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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