I LOST TOUCH WITH A WRITING FRIEND and was glad.
She’d be disappointed to learn what I was doing with my days, how I was no longer writing, how ideas that came to me were like sparks that die out quickly, embers lacking the power to ignite more. I couldn’t stop thinking about the last time we were together, all the encouraging things she’d said to me. Isn’t it strange, how I now expected disappointment from her instead of something positive?
I was glad we’d lost contact. I’d have felt ashamed for her to know. Ah, but shame cannot be thrust on us by others. Shame is always an inside job.
IN MY LAST CONVERSATION with Ma, she left the stories to me, the ones she would not be able to finish. Three years earlier, I’d purchased her a word processor so she would type them up. I thought it would do her good to have the creative outlet. But those last six months, her fingers let her down.
She left the stories to me to capture and preserve because she knew I knew them, not only from my viewpoint, but from hers as well. We were like two witnesses to the same crime, each with a slightly different perspective. To have her permission to tell things as I saw fit and share them as I wanted was a tremendous gift – a rare inheritance.
She apologized for being such a burden these last few years and cut me off when I was about to argue the point. I’ve learned not to argue with old people when they want to get in a few words before parting company.
“I know it’s been hard on you,” she said. “You’re too nice to say it, but. . . I know how I am.”
“Honestly, Ma, the only hard times were when I did my best, but could sense your disappointment.” The conversation that followed met a need in both of us, I think. I treasure the memory of it.
I mention all this to you now only to suggest a possible connection between things – my expectations of my friend’s disapproval, possible deep roots, shame, etc. You caught that, right? The jury is still out on all this, but I think it’s something I needed to see.
In fact, I began to suspect I was called off the main road because there were several things I needed to see, not to end the writing, but in order for it to continue.
Next post: The Words Come Back