Fragments

Gregor Samsa awoke to a life he no longer recognized, to a self that was not recognizable. I feel this way about my own life.

We are so small, so insignificant, but that doesn't make us ache any less.

It occurs to me that other people go on, they live, but I only live in that day in May 2006 when my father died.

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has taught us, there is danger in focusing on one narrative, but, when it comes to grief, we allow only a single narrative--that of resilience and healing. We need to expand our minds. We need more stories. Survival is important but, increasingly, I am interested in those who do not survive, who cannot survive.

When I write on paper, I feel so free. I feel a true catharsis, as though these thoughts and feelings are physical objects. A stream coming out of me. It makes a difference to feel the words being formed, to touch them and be close to them. Writing as a release of emotion, as liberation, as survival. That's what writing has always been to me, this channel for expressing my true self and all that I feel and fear and cannot speak. I think some things simply can't be said to another person or in normal conversation, they have to be written. The words are too raw and intense and only writing can contain them.

One loss leads to another. The chain of loss is never broken.

The past is ruins and bones.

Erase the ending. I want an end to endings.

The past is alive. It's the "now" that feels dead, unbearable.

He is in my bones and now he is only bones.

The past as I remember it did not happen. It never existed. My memory invented it.

Love won't make him live again, but his love keeps me alive.

I've been watching the films of Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes. Gloria is all action, with Rowlands displaying grit and style. A Woman Under the Influence is emotionally devastating. Rowlands is fearless. She goes to a depth that few actresses ever reach. There's no skin. There's no barrier. You forget that it's a movie on a screen, you think you're witnessing real life. I relate to Mabel. I've never been insane like her but I'm strange, I don't fit, I can't make myself into the right thing.

The childhood vanishes but the child remains, always longing for what is lost.

It scares me that there will be a time without me, that I will no longer be in time.

Spring and summer remind me of childhood. I spent my days outside with the trees and the birds and the grass. I played, I wandered. I waded barefoot in creeks and picked blackberries and hiked the grassy fields. I got scratches from briers, mosquito bites, grass stains on my jeans, cuts on my hands, sprained ankles. I thought youth was everlasting. I knew nothing about the end. I stayed outside until my mother yelled for me to come home. I couldn't wait for it all to begin again.

I can't live without remembering. The places and the people are gone. So I write the memories.

What will it take for me to write as I should, as I know I can write? I hold back. I fail.

Trees--a wall of emerald shimmer.

My love for light is why I adore the Impressionists. They were dedicated to the fluctuations of light, how the sun made objects glow and throb.

The vastness of nature, the wonder of it, the pleasure of witnessing a bird take flight, watching the shadow of its wings glide across the grass.

I like being outside in the mysteries of nature. I can't name trees or identify insects. I know so little, but I own my unknowing. I embrace it. I connect to sensations. I breathe in the sweet scent of cut grass. I listen to the barking dogs and the birdsong. I look at the white vapor of contrails streaking across the milky blue sky. I revel in the now. I live inside the glow of the present.

Being out in nature rinses my mind, wipes it clean so that I can just exist without feeling so damaged and ashamed and lost. The light is a gift.

I can't paint light. I can't write it. Light can't be written, only known. It's so physical, so visual, there's no other way to know it except to see it.

I'm in love with so much but how can I ever express all that love? How can I share what is inside?

It doesn't matter what others think is bearable. What matters is what you can bear and what can break you.

I try so hard to hold on to life but, by holding life, I also hold death. There is no escape.

Life isn't a classroom; it isn't a series of lessons to be learned. Life is chaos. Pure chaos.

My reality: a life, a world, without him

I'm trying to write about ruins, about what loss does to a life, the destruction of it, the darkness, the never healing.

I'm here in 2016 but I'm also in 2006, in his hospital room beside his dead body. And I'm in the years before his death, in the years of his life. I'm at the park with him. We're watching television. He's telling me he loves me. I'm in all these places at once. I am all these memories, all these girls.

He is forever lost, forever untouchable.

I write from pain. My writing will always be pain. My writing will always revolve around my pain. I can't write any other way.

Writing keeps me tender. Writing is the tender part of me. It's my heart and soul.

My writing is and always will be cathartic. It's selfish in that way. It comes from my gut, my blood, my body.

I only get flashes of what is in me. That's what these fragments are.

Where does sound go after the body goes silent? And taste and touch and sight and smell? All the petals gathered over a lifetime drop away. A dark wilting. The living touch the senseless dead. The living touch this new nothingness, in awe of the vast absence. I watch a movie in which deaf and blind people touch a tree, place their hands on the bark and stand there, connecting to the life of it. All we can do is touch. All we can do is feel.