I spend my days in that place right now—the place where I have a million ideas I want to write out, and no ability to actually write them. Whenever I’m on the roller-coaster of emotions this happens to me, and I like to think I’m not the only one; that many other authors have visited that place. Perhaps I’m lying to myself—perhaps it’s just me who goes to that place.
The thoughts and story-lines fly through my mind so fast that I don’t even have the chance to jot them down in my journal. Instead of writing stories and blog posts and diary entries and book outlines, I write and rewrite the obituary, work emails apologizing for my delayed response, and bullet-point to-do lists filled with items that should each carry the ubiquitous “IF” in front of them.
If he’s alive tomorrow. If we’re not traveling back tomorrow. If I’m able to make it in to work tomorrow...
Dying is hard work. It’s hard work for the one who’s dying, and it’s hard work for the family surrounding and supporting them in their journey home. We are never left without something to be done. Sometimes I wonder if we, as a society, should talk about this more often—what dying is like; what is involved. Sometimes, I think I should write a book about it, but those thoughts lead me right back to my underlying frustration.
Plus, I don’t know who would actually read it. Those who have been through this before-- and would know the significance of placing those words on paper for the world to see-- are already in the know. They don’t need a book to tell them what they lived through. Those who have not witnessed this firsthand would have no reason to feel inclined to read it.
When I’m not trying to keep my head above water at work, and when I’m not coordinating new medicine schedules and updates from nurses and learning about comfort care, I’m keeping the house clean and the laundry going (let’s face it; it’s never actually ‘done’). Those are the worst times: when I’m washing dishes or folding laundry the thoughts race through my mind. I calm them by dreaming of taking two weeks off this summer for a writer’s retreat: just me, a hotel room in someplace that is not here, and room service. Do I want to be by the beach or do I want to be in the desert? Do I want to go to the mountains where’s it’s cool or someplace south, where it will be hot and sultry? I don’t know if it would matter, as long as I was holed up and doing nothing but writing.
I know this will not last forever, and I’ve felt guilty for my selfishness many times in the past two months. My grandfather is not going to be here forever—hospice didn’t expect him to be here a week ago. The semester will end. The boys will be out of school. The house will sell and we’ll move to a house where J and I plan to spend the next eight to ten years. That house will finally have an office for me, and I—at the very least—will be able to escape there, on occasion.
And yet… I may not be the great American author, but writing is so very important to me. It’s a significant part of me. I realize I am not doing my best in other areas of my life if I deny myself this one outlet—it’s like I lose one dimension of myself, the whole framework becomes unstable, and the other dimensions of my life come crashing in to the finite point.
So, where is that place? What does it feel like? It feels as if I’m crossing over a barren land, searching for the source of the running water I swear I can hear in the distance. It feels like I’m lost in an overgrown corn field, looking for the end of the rows—just so I can get a glimpse of the horizon. It feels like I’m walking on a tightrope between two buildings, but I can no longer see the building I’m walking towards because of low-laying clouds. All I can keep doing is to keep walking, keep searching, keep balancing.