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catching the fleeting moment

when the table turns: why I write

by Judy
February 16, 2015

After the last essay I wrote I was thinking again about writing and why it’s become such an essential part of my life now as a caregiver, a woman and as a human being.

Just like Anne Lindbergh’s beautiful little book, "A Gift from the Sea,” I feel that writing always brings me closer to my self and in many ways brings me to a bigger Self, one that I did not even know was there until I start writing, reflecting and going deeper. It feels like if I did not write, I would miss out on so much of me, but not only me, but a whole world of contemplation that has become more and more so essential to my well-being.

Writing mysteriously taps into memories long forgotten; and into contemplations where I am voluntarily forced to follow a thread that keeps unwinding. It’s a thread that often surprises me with what I know but had never articulated before. Sometimes I am “pushed” to new places that I can barely see and I need to slowly feel into them, giving myself a lot of space to see what will unfold. It’s almost like I am pushing up against a wall and I have to keep at that wall until more reveals itself.

There are some things that happen with my mom that could so easily get lost if I didn’t write them down – not only could they get lost, but also they could just be fleeting glimpses of a moment in time that contains the kernels of so much more if I did not stop and take notice.

I am thinking of a conversation that I had recently with my mom. I asked her, as I have done before, if she was afraid of dying. And she said, “No, she was looking forward to it.” That’s the first time she ever said that. When I asked her “Why,” she referred to the fact she would be at peace. A little later I told her that I was still afraid of dying and she said, “Why? If you have not done anything wrong, there is nothing to be afraid of.”

I have no idea where that came from in my mom. I didn’t even know exactly what she meant, wondering why not doing anything wrong means one would not be afraid of dying, and yet there was something so big and wonderful in what she said. I felt this enormous mystery open up; not only about life and death, but about my mother as well. Who is this woman who I think I know? I felt what she said would stay with me for the rest of my life; that moment of just lying in bed with her and her telling me a few times that there was nothing to be afraid of. 

A few days after writing this I was talking to a friend who had recently visited a relative in hospice. This relative didn’t seem to realize she was dying and consequently it wasn’t discussed. I realized how lucky I was that my mom has so openly accepted her dying and how much that has affected our whole being together. There are no hidden corners…we can talk about dying and death; we can say how much we love each other with the awareness that we have limited time together on this earthly plane. This is very much a result of my mother’s openness. She has made this possible.

So I am like this fisherwoman catching these fleeting moments in time and giving them space, giving them room to expand and grow. I open a door and then all sorts of reflections and conversations get aired and ignited.

And like a fisherwoman, I want to share my “catch” with others whose lives are probably very different from mine - circumstances different - and yet I know that what touches me will touch others; not in the details necessarily, but in the mystery of life; in all these tender moments that contain such jewels.

 This is an essential reason why I write and why I continue to write.

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