About this time last year I was writing the last chapter of a novel, Irish Twins, in which the main character, Anne Shields, was en route to peace and resolution. Anne had lived in my head for many, many months steering the vehicle that drove my creativity.
This character was easy for me to visualize and to hear, for she had the voice of my mother. Not only did I hear her very clearly, but I also listened to everything she said. Just as I had listened to my actual mother when she was still alive. My mom was the quiet type—she didn’t say much—so when she did offer an opinion, it carried a lot of weight.
My mom died when she was 80. Today she would have been 92.
On January 20th each year, I hold her very close; however, there’s rarely a day that goes by when I don’t wonder what my mom would have thought. Shortly after she died it took me several months to stop picking up the telephone and dialing the first digits of her number whenever I wanted to share something. Then, years down the road I had the idea to write the story, Irish Twins, from her perspective. Creating a fictional version of her and her being in the afterlife, allowed me, for a time, to visit with her daily and imagine her answers and her opinions. It was a wonderful exercise in keeping her alive—honoring her life by giving what I knew about her to a fictional character and keeping her close.
So again, about this time last year when I finished the story, it was a bittersweet experience. Of course, I was delighted to type the words “The End” at the bottom of the manuscript, but I was completely unprepared for the immediate flood of grief that filled my senses. It was like saying goodbye to her all over again.
A friend of mine named Mike just lost his mother on Tuesday. I wish I didn’t know what he’s going through, but I do. I’ve witnessed many friends lose a parent over the past 12 years (in the time I not only lost my mom, but also my dad) and it’s the same for all of us. It’s painful and it’s difficult. But because of their deaths, we learn even more about the value of life and, what I believe is our duty to live well.
Today, however, I don’t focus upon my mother’s death. I focus on her life and the beautiful woman she was and will always be in my head. And all is well.
“Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!” —Henry Scott Holland