Even writing this is difficult—and I know what I want to say.
Last year, when my father died, I wrote. Maybe it was because he lived a thousand miles away and I had no means to travel, meaning I had to rely on others to take care of his things, which in turn meant I had a lot of time on my hands and nothing to do (despite having just started a new job). But I wrote. A lot. Writing helped me keep it together, while providing an emotional outlet.
This year, on the first anniversary of my father’s death, my mother died. Because we both lived in the same state, in the weeks before her death I frequently made the 75-mile drive from my place to hers for one reason or another. In fact, it was at the end of one of these trips that I had to call the paramedics and have them take her to the emergency room.
During the few weeks of back and forth, when not helping or looking after my mother, I wrote. As before, this gave me a way to process what I was feeling.
Two days after that trip to the emergency room, I was present when she died.
Over the following weeks, I have continued to write. But things have been very different compared to last year—or even to a few months ago. I have gone from writing several new poems every day to having several days go by without writing anything other than my usual note to the day of the week. On those in-between days, I simply don’t feel like writing anything. When I am able to commit something to page or screen, it often takes me longer, and I am less satisfied with the results.
If anything, I have been taking in more words than I have been writing. I have been doing a lot of reading (mostly biographies so far), listening to music (particularly Lou Reed’s Magic and Loss, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, a couple of Johnny Cash collections, and a couple of recent Willie Nelson albums), and watching movies and TV shows. (Granted, the movies and TV shows are mostly comfort food, but The Good Place is always thought-provoking, and Ken Burns’s Country Music series did prompt me to explore the music of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.)
I’m not one to obsess over why the words aren’t coming so easily (though I admit it’s more than a little frustrating), particularly given the pace I’ve maintained for the last few years. (Okay, I’ve been obsessing a little.) I’ve got a lot going on, and it’s going to take a while for things to settle. Until then, I’ll have to do the best I can; the words aren’t going anywhere.
(3 November 2019)
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