For some reason I’ve come running here to this page like I did years and years ago. I remember the community that was here, waiting, ready to swoop me up in their arms and whisper good things in my ear. Words of comfort. Wisdom. Solidarity. I know this, you’d say. Or, you’ve got this. And, it’s truly awful, unbearable. Impossible. These were the words that comforted me, arms that armed me, helped me to not just endure but to actually live. And so I come running to this page to tell you of this evening, not unlike many evenings but something impels me here, to the pale pink, to your world. Out there.
I was putting Sophie to bed this evening, my thoughts run desultory, the range unimaginative, repetitive the she’s 27 and should be going out or having a late dinner with a boyfriend, a girlfriend, tired after a long day of work, perhaps giving a baby a bath. She’ll never have a baby, never get married, never have a boyfriend, never go out at night. There’s deep love even so and my eyes, I hope, say it that she’s given me gladness and honor and purity and patience and the awareness of anger and frustration and deviation from the Now because there is, really, nothing but the Now or the present and most of the time this is good, I think. This is not magical thinking. I had the syringe of cannabis medicine ready and all is flow in these moments because we’ve done them over and over and over and over and she’d been twitchy all night so it was inevitable, I guess, but it’s always always always a surprise and perhaps always always always devastating even more so when the time between them stretches blessedly long. How did I bear the hundreds a day? She fell back on the pillows and began to seize and I felt so tired for her so tired for me but I watched it and said over and over and over you’re ok you’re ok you’re ok and my heart was beating and I didn’t feel gentle but I prayed to Mary even as I knew in my bones knit to hers that there’s no god the father out there or within have mercy have mercy have mercy. A few STOP! STOP! ENOUGH! before gentleness washed over me and all got quiet.
Jack Gilbert came to mind — his “A Brief for the Defense” and I wonder whether things will always be this way, this version of impossible, this kind of hunkering down and waiting and accepting and feeling my blood surge in my body surge and retreat surge and retreat as I watch my daughter twitch and jerk and drown then lie spent and gentle beside me. I will lay anger aside as easily as gladness and gladness will yield to anger. I guess.
You can read “A Brief for the Defense” and other Jack Gilbert poems here.
I still think about Miss Katie and the what ifs. My middle daughter is getting married and Miss Katie won't marry, in fact it's doubtful that Miss Katie could even attend the wedding which is so sad. She won't be a maid of honour and won't throw her sister a wedding shower. I imagine her sister carries her own grief too, not having a sister she can talk to, to call after a hard day, call to complain about their mother.
Miss Katie has her first grey hairs now which saddens me somehow. She's never kissed a boy and now she's turning grey. This is our grief, the grief of the mothers that we don't talk about, that people dismiss, that others don't understand. But it is still grief that we carry with us.
Thank you for introducing me to Jack Gilbert. There were these lines in a poem of his, The Lost Hotel of Paris. They made me cry.
We look up at the stars and they are
not there. We see the memory
of when they were, once upon a time.
And that too is more than enough.
I'm glad you came to the page to reach out. I'm happy that the comfort of your friends sustains you. I share your sorrow for all the things Sophie will not do in her life. I understand your anger at a god who does not exist. Why in the world should you and Sophie suffer so? Why any of us? It makes no sense and I suppose it is not meant to. I'm sending my love to you and your Sophie.