Sunday, November 15, 2009

past lives

woke up in a void this morning. so much has shifted in my life that i am no longer sure what i am doing here. i feel like i am walking on glass. something transparent and quite possibly not there. the shift has made me lose my grounding.

then i read the ny times sunday styles of the times section - i rip straight to it every sunday - because of the emotional rawness, after the shiny world of advertising, there is something so compelling about the pages that seem still drenched in the blood and pain and revelation of the people who wrote.

one of my friends said, about some of my blogposts, shocked, "you really bare your soul..." a question, a statement. i have no other choice. being a writer, if you do it properly, is (for me) self-exposure. it's ripping off all those skins of civilization and propriety and self-protection and laying bare the damp, pulsing emotions and hurts and successes and disappointments, that connect you to every other human soul.

midway through the article i started crying. partly, the content - the loss of a parent - the anger, frustration and love one fights and works through in becoming an adult. and the thought of loss in general.

i was thinking about abortions. thinking about babies i'd lost or given up. thinking of lives i'd betrayed. promises not kept. i've never recovered from them.

i am very much pro-choice. and i made my choices. not that they were the right or wrong ones. or that there is a place for those children in my present life.

but so many times, i felt i had no other option. i felt coerced by others, by society, by fear, situations beyond my control. the sadness and anger and frustration - towards my own parents, my ex-husbands, past boyfriends - like a growing cancer, had reached its tentacles so deeply inside me, curling in and out of all my organs that i can't detangle it. the sadness began untrenching, melting slowly into streams of tears.

and i thought about my flesh and blood babies, the ones who live with me, the lanky teenagers who once lay soft and dimpled, cuddling against my arms in the morning. thought about those achy mornings when my head throbbed and my eyes burned after being up half the night as those tiny bodies kicked and writhed in my bed, or as they nursed or cried for bottles or simply comfort after a nightmare.

those soft babies are now full of sharp edges and often hostile space as they find their own way to adulthood.

this morning - these days - i miss the babies.

i'd sent sasha and rara to james' to give me a chance to re-focus, to think about my human form, my purpose, to heal and concentrate on myself. i haven't heard from them yet. they are probably eating waffles with james and his girlfriend and her son.

so i crept downstairs and snuggled into bed with zarina. i hugged her sleeping form. how is that teenagers can sleep like logs? so heavy the weight of their late-morning slumbers that they can sleep through earthquakes and barking dogs and ringing phones and grocery deliveries.

when zarina was about 2, she decided that she needed a big girl bed like her sister sasha and she re-located from the crib (and our bed) to the bunk bed in the girls' room. every night, she'd be put to bed with her sister.

and every night, at about one in the morning, she'd creep back into our room and come to my side of the bed. she'd tug my shoulder or my arm and whisper, "it's me." as if i'd been waiting impatiently for her since i'd tucked her in and listened to her prayers.

in the darkness, i'd pull her up into bed beside me and she'd sleep in a variety of positions - many of which included slightly strangling or suffocating me as she stretched across my body. most of which would not have allowed me to sleep had i not been so exhausted already with a full time job and two small children and a husband who was so often weak and unwell.

this morning, i lay in her bed and hugged her and, looked at the smeared traces of mascara around her eyes, the red adolescent lips, the muscular shoulders she got from me, the powerful ballet dancer's legs.

i thought about holding her when she'd had a seizure when she was a year and a half - a few months before she graduated to bunkbed. her soft body was suddenly stiff and gray, her eyes rolled back in her head, her mouth foaming and green with vomit - i grabbed her in a blanket and ran down the street to the doctor's office, breathless and dizzy with panic, the blood rushing to my head so hard i could barely see.

every ten minutes, i fed her one teaspoon of the syrup of canned white peaches - a surprisingly little-known but very effective remedy for dehydration during a stomach virus - until she sprang back to life, the color rushing to her cheeks like persephone in the spring.

now here she is, impossibly huge and uncontainable, strong, thriving and increasingly self-aware.

given the doctors' currently omnious diagnosis of my health, i worried that if she woke found me sobbing beside her, she'd be terrified.

however, i needn't have worried. she is a teenager on a sunday morning after a night of "hanging out" with her school friends. nothing like her mum would or could wake her.

and eventually, i stopped crying.

and i came back upstairs to make some oatmeal and a cup of tea.

and think that maybe why i am here is to write.

because without the writing, without the art, the conversation and the stories, without the connection with other humans, our lives are fragile and incomprehensible and unexamined.

1 comment:

  1. This was simply beautiful. Thank you for the courage to share. I hardly know you but feel so much for you and of course, wish you good health. Doctors are not the masters of our destiny, God is. Insha'allah, all will be well.