Hey, I forgot to tell you guys. (And I’m sure by now you’re getting a tad bored with this whole Mom thing; I promise I’ll stop writing about it now. I mean … after this.) As some of you know (see my post One Novel Thought), I’m just now writing a novel.
For about two month now, as part of writing that book, I’ve been absolutely steeping myself in the memories I have of my mother—and in large part of when I was three and four years old, and my mother and I would be alone in our home after my father left for work, and my sister for school. I’ve been living in that physical and psychological space again; through my conjuring of that time of my life, my mother has come alive to me in a way that for me is unprecedented. For the first time in decades upon decades I’ve been again seeing her face, watching her move, hearing her voice. I have a freakishly good memory for my past, and for this novel I’ve been revisiting every last detail of that part of it in which my mom starred.
Isn’t that weird? I don’t in any dynamic way think about my mom at all, for forever—and then, for this novel, I completely immerse myself in the earliest memories I have of her, and I stay in that place for at least two months. She’s there, again, real as life to me: in the kitchen, in our dining room, ironing and folding clothes beside me as I sit on the floor listening to some records we used to have of a guy reading fairy tales. Bringing food to the table. Singing as she goes about her business in the house. (A music major in college, she was a gifted musician, and sang like an angel.)
And right as I’m reliving all that as deeply as I can—which I’ve never in my life done for so long, or in such a concentrated fashion—I find out she’s dead!
It’s astounding. On the one hand, I’m almost profoundly displeased that five years went by before I learned that she had died. On the other hand, I’m not so stupid that I don’t notice that God (excuse me, you non-religious types) chose this unbelievably precise time to reveal to me something so intimately connected to work I’m doing—work about my childhood that means more to me by far than anything I’ve ever done, creative or otherwise. When I said in the post linked to above that I’ve waited my whole life to write this book, I wasn’t kidding. It’s about my whole life (well, the first chunk of it)—which means, of course, that a great deal of it’s about my mother.
And whoosh—just like that, at this time, I found out she’s made the Big Exit.
I have no idea how people who don’t believe in God process this kind of coincidence. I don’t even think twice about it, man. I just go, “Wow. What a God.”