Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of my father’s death.
I laid in bed, holding a locket that contained his picture and listening to Tori Amos’s “From the Choirgirl Hotel,” an album that deals heavily with the grief and darkness that Amos experienced after a miscarriage.
In “Spark,” Amos sings:
she’s convinced she could hold back a glacier
but she couldn’t keep Baby alive
doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere
All these years have passed and yet no time has passed. Time no longer registers in my body.
I’m always surviving, not survived. It’s never set or final. I’m never done with survival, it’s never in the past tense. It’s always something I have to do right now and the next moment and the next.
Take your life and all you love and try to imagine it disappearing. Take away the person who loved you and that you loved. Keep taking it all away. What are you? What is left? Take away more people, take away your home, take away your health, add poverty and depression and anxiety. Then, maybe you can imagine what the past decade has been like for me. Loss after loss after loss.
Feel everything you love vanish and then tell me that time heals it. Tell me it gets easier. I will answer that time only brings more pain, that the loss accumulates, that your body starts to break down, that my writing is the record of a mind and body battered and pushed past its limits.
Doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere
I know that so much of me is gone, that the part that survives is the part that you are reading, that writing has always been and always will be the way that I stay alive. It can’t be anything else.
I’m not sure who I am or what woman remains. I think of myself always as that sixteen-year-old girl at her father’s funeral, watching her life disintegrate, feeling herself shattered. I’m not sure who this woman is who writes these words. I’m not sure I know her all that well or even like or want to be her and yet I am her and she’s all I have, along with these words.
I said to myself today Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. The last decade of suffering cannot have been for nothing. At least you can make words that can help someone else, that can voice this deep, intolerable aching.
I guess that’s all I can do. Keep writing. Keep creating even though I am destroyed.