Intimations of Mortality

Lately I’m expending a lot of effort feeling frustrated by the lagging response times of most of the journals I’ve submitted to, fighting the urge to dash off mild yet curious emails regarding my poems. I feel stymied, depressed.

Lately I’m frustrated by my failure to stabilize Aidan’s ever-erratic sleep schedule, my attempts at weaning, my formerly reliable and now nonexistent writing time. My, my, my. Stymied, depressed.

There’s more, there’s always more, especially in the fall. Lovely, the blazing migration of leaves, but I’m not ready for the morning frost. The cold nights. The days with more than just a snap in the air. The early dark.

But really, it’s all a smokescreen. Because my mother is fighting lung cancer, and who isn’t helpless in the face of her mother’s mortality? The reminder that life may be tenacious, but still as frail as cicada husks.

The use of the word cicada is not gratuitously poetic. It was my mother who taught me the correct pronunciation of cicada, who identified that constant buzzing sound for me when we visited family in Georgia.

Since suddenly losing my father in 1993 this has been a fear, because only with that loss did the possibility of further loss even occur to me. It’s not news that youth carries a nearly impossibly impenetrable sense of immortality. Nearly.

I’m writing about this here because even though I’ve been distracted, I have no intention of letting A View from the Potholes become a fallow field. My tenacious life has transformed and expanded, and retracted, too, in so many ways since that night in 2007 I began.

Grave illness doesn’t have to mean that everything else pales in importance. I think that’s a mistake. Perspective is good. Having a sense of proportion. But life isn’t a hierarchy.

In the first episodes of “Lost,” the character of Jack said something to Kate about dealing with fear that’s always stayed with me, though I missed its last seasons. He said that when he’s afraid, he gives in to the fear, allows it its full rein, for five seconds. For five seconds he lets the terror in. Then, at the count of five, he moves on.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five —


10 responses to “Intimations of Mortality”

  1. What a sad and lovely post. I am sorry to hear what you are going through, but appreciate your effort to keep ‘things’ in perspective.

    I recently discovered a quote that seems fitting:

    “If you think you are going through hell, keep going.”

    – Winston Churchhill

  2. Ditto to Drew’s “What a sad and lovely post.”

    Thinking of you and looking forward to future posts.

  3. Thinking of you, too.


  4. You have scads of perception and much sense of proportion, Miz Marie. I know one often thinks, yea…whatever, especially with winter rolling in. I do hope your mother is at least taking something for her pain. And your pain, while mainly that g.d. depressive sort of pain, that be funneled into your writing… you write so eloquently about every day (sometimes) subjects that none of us would even look at, let alone tell the truth about, grrrlfriend. Continue telling the truth and we will be waiting for your posts and your kind soul to heal.

  5. Thirding the comment about this being a sad and lovely post.

    I am so sorry that your mom has lung cancer.

    Since suddenly losing my father in 1993 this has been a fear, because only with that loss did the possibility of further loss even occur to me.

    Same for me, when I lost my dad.

    I am sorry you have to go through this.

  6. Dear Marie,
    Thinking good thoughts for you and your family. As far as literary mag response times – I’m with you – lately those guys have been taking way too long!
    How did fall arrive so quickly, all of the sudden, it seems. The cold, the dark. I am wishing you small good things, fast healing, the surprises that can make you happy on an autumn day.

  7. Thinking of you…… sending strength. Thank you for sharing this… it helps us keep things in perspective, too.

  8. Thank you, all of you — it helps to be a part of this wide internet world. Moving on…

  9. oh, you’re in my thoughts, Marie!

  10. Thank you, Monsieur Frost — may we meet again before too long!

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