Sometimes in the kitchen, when I’m procrastinating heavily by throwing myself full fledged into some new recipe and homemade muffins, I get severely frustrated that I can’t call Cynthia and ask her a cooking question or just brag about a successful new concoction. Frustrated. That’s a strange word for the feeling of not being able to talk to someone who died two years ago this month. It seems inadequate, but also somehow correct. I’m frustrated. Not angry. Not depressed. Not even sad, really. She had suffered so much at the end that her leaving came as a relief to me in some ways, if only in that she wasn’t suffering any longer.
So, I stand in the kitchen and miss her. (This picture is one of my favorites. She loved the making, the tasting, the creating, and the pure unspoiled art of cooking.) The miss I have is a simple feeling, not convoluted as it was in the beginning after she had died—full of guilt, anger, confusion—but a very bare, clear, and stripped down missing of something that was essential to my growing up, to how I live in the world; her constant powerful presence.
Of course, I’ve written many poems about her, even some about her death, including, “Cower,” because that’s what you do if you’re a writer. We deal with our personal tragedies in the great open of the universe as if it will help. It does help. At least, it does help me. When you write about someone you miss, sometimes it feels like writing a letter, as if you’re really saying something to the person. It’s a very unique satisfaction. I suppose I’m doing that now: writing something for her sake.
So much of what I experienced around her death made me bolder, braver, and more willing to accept risk. How she would have liked to know that her painful leaving, made me seek a more joyful life. Oh death. It has to be good for something, doesn't it?
I didn’t write as many letters as I wanted this month. Though I sent eleven or so homemade Valentine’s Day cards. I think that counts for something. I wrote some little notes for poems and have almost, almost, started on my rewrite.
The running (I laugh that it’s not really running, it’s walking with a sweet steady hop) and hiking continues and my brain is doing just dandy. I feel a sort of slow pull back into the writing world and perhaps more of a balance will come—of the physical and the intellectual—half “chair time,” half “out there” time.
As March comes closer, I start a big reading tour with Adam Clay and Michael Robins. Look for dates here. And I also will turn one year older, one little inkling better. And still, I clumsily work toward clarity and truth and realness and laughter and love. What was it that Virginia Woolf said in, To the Lighthouse,
“Something clear as the space which the clouds at last uncover—a little space of sky which sleeps beside the moon.”
Yes. Yes that. "Something clear as the space which the clouds at last uncover."