Four visits to my mother’s deathbed

ViolettNormally, I think of something to write about here, knock off about five hundred words, and post it a few days later. I might change the odd word, maybe even add a sentence, but it goes out more or less the same. Four Visits to my Mother’s Deathbed is a projected longer piece of writing, more complex than I usually attempt. I want to make more than one draft, and more than tinker with the layout. It is a big subject for me. I was present when my mother died of cancer in 1996. She had had breast cancer seven years before, then bowel cancer, and finally liver cancer did for her: when they found chemotherapy was inhibiting growth of the tumour but not reducing it, she stopped chemotherapy.

Twice since then in a therapeutic or personal growth setting I have been taken back there, and the experience was different. She stopped in 1996, her life was a whole, but I carried on changing and growing, as did my understanding of her and attitude to her.

I want to write of the experience as it was, who I was then, and how I saw her; then of going back, and why, how I had changed and how my perception had changed; and finally making a new visit, how that could be and what it could mean. Themes interlink, and change subtly. How can I avoid repeating myself? Should I write chronologically or start in some other way? Creating a draft is exploring what happened, and also exploring who I am: I may change while writing, and want to capture that. I have changed and I want to express that. Should I interweave my visits or deal with one at a time?

I have just written a sketch for a fourth visit- what might going back look like now? What might I want from it? What meaning might it have? After writing that, I realise that imagining it for that sketch is different from doing it.

My goal is a complex piece of writing about four times in my life and my relationship with my mother who lives on in my mind, still forming me. Even writing it may change me. It is in response to the writing 201 challenge.

14 thoughts on “Four visits to my mother’s deathbed

  1. I say you start with random texts- the moments that stick most in your mind. Once you have those you can decide how to connect them.
    Writing is good. It’s liberating. After I sent you that excerpt last night, I spent today slightly perplexed that that 21 year old could become this 36 year old. If one is to progress in life, change has to be a major factor. No one is born with the answers.
    That other me was so naive, so preoccupied in justifying my sexuality. I’m so pleased time has passed and so much has happened since.

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    • I am still preoccupied in justifying my sexuality. There is a certain amount of work one has to do. I still bring forth my Shadow, those bits of myself which I could not admit: I imagine them latent in my 21 year old self, though he appears so different from me now.

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  2. I really don’t have any advice on how to approach the story of your Mother’s death, but I look forward to reading it. I think that there are structural things that we figure out as we write. And we can write in a certain trajectory and maybe find that we can’t use it only to discover days or weeks or years later, that it’s usable after all.

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    • It is not only her death, but my whole relationship with her, and how it has changed since her death 19 years ago. I have the Commons, accessible for those who register on the wordpress course, to show off one or two paragraphs and ask about their structure.

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  3. I tend to start with unstructured writing – except perhaps for the vaguest outline – and focus on an enthusiasm, which almost propels words onto a page. Afterwards, if I am lucky, the connectivity sugggests itself.

    Does that help? XXXX

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  4. My advice is to follow your gut instinct … writing is one of the more personal adventures, so in my view other peoples’ ideas are irrelevant. You know what lurks in the darkest corners and what floats on the top of the pond … and if we even dare LOOK into the pond. Go for it. It shall flow as it is intended.

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    • Here I blur a barrier, but I still have the idea of completely free writing, discovering new things, and expository writing, telling others what I have discovered. I would rather publish what exposes my Great Wisdom, but possibly only the free, experimental writing is fresh enough for others to bother with.

      Sketch 2 and Sketch 3 tomorrow and the day after.

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  5. Is it a part of ourselves that dies when our mother dies? Hm, a dying mother often has a different feel than when a father dies. Is it at all possible to write about our mother’s death without writing from somewhere in the heart…a deep connection, or not.

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