“Write what haunts you, lest you spend your life amidst drivel. Write what you care most about, the beauty, the absurdity, and the sorrow of the world.”–Jane Resh Thomas
In the quiet of an unoccupied room I exhaled the words I’d just read in a whisper… “Write what haunts you…”
Had you asked me prior to my mother’s passing if I thought it would be tough to lose her I would have told you emphatically it wouldn’t be. I was unprepared for the level of grief that would settle over me after the details of dismantling her material life in Portland, Oregon was checked off my list.
The truth is–just as I did while she was living–I have missed her. After all, isn’t it absence which leaves us yearning?
Into the small u-haul we rented to tow back to California, alongside other beloved treasures, we packed 4 enormous boxes, boxes chock-full with what I saved of her writing.
When finally the rush of metal wheels rolled the trailer door shut, the speed at which the previously sunlit draped boxes disappeared was equal to the short-lived euphoria I felt for having emptied her house.
After, I stood in the center of what had weeks earlier been her living room and the slow creep of reality stung me; the countless times I had helped move, first my parents, then later just my mother, were over.
They were gone.
Hours later, Portland had long since vanished and California stretched out in front of us like a dream, my mind teased the idea that in the back of the trailer taped inside the boxes were insights into some of what my mother kept closed away.
Once home, much like a miner, I excavated the contents of the boxes.
There among the pages were the ingredients of her living–a pinch of this and a dash of that–and as I poured over her words: poetry, essays and short stories, some finished while others not, the sound of her voice spread through me as if a heartbeat…
And now the words that arrested me earlier, again rise up as if in a refrain…
Write what you care most about, the beauty, the absurdity, and the sorrow of the world…
Indeed my mother did just that, she was a wonderful writer, a gift I dare say I am grateful she did not squander.
…write what haunts you.