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Defining the impossible

When there is something so enormous to be said … which can’t be said, then silence is the only possibility.” – Fay Weldon, Down Among the Women.

I have thought of this quote frequently over the last few days, as I have been drawn to this online journal I keep. Yet when I have sat down to write something, I have been forced to turn away.

For the first time in a very long time I don’t know what to say.

I’ve put down words, then erased them because they don’t capture the essence of what I mean. Perhaps they’re too frivolous, or too personal. Perhaps they’re exactly what I’m feeling, but then, a moment later, I’m feeling something different, and they become strange, alien to me, almost hateful.

“When there is something so enormous …” yes, but what is so enormous? It’s not just the feelings – I’m used to feelings, I’ve become adept at accessing them and allowing them to pass through me. Feelings no longer frighten me.

Perhaps it’s the rate at which they come – I feel like my life is flashing before my eyes, over and over: old fragments of things, memories, sensations, images. Things I had put to rest years ago suddenly come alive again and demand an audience.

Perhaps it’s the shock of being confronted with my own mortality. One generation is disappearing, mine is up next.

Perhaps this is what grief is – not just sadness, but also confusion, anger, anxiety, dread.

The relationship I had with my mother was not always easy. Years ago, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that she was not, nor had she ever been, the mother that I needed. I railed against that, for years. I judged her harshly for what she had been unable to give. Yet finally – at long last – I found a place of acceptance and was able to grieve. I grieved not for what I had lost, but for what had not been. And, in a sense, I said goodbye to her then. As my mother.

These last few months, we were in touch relatively frequently. More frequently than we had been for years. Knowing that she was ill, the past disappeared. I had no illusions that we would ever see eye-to-eye, but none of it mattered. I’m very grateful that we were able to part in that way, even if we didn’t have a chance to say a final goodbye.

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