December 23, 2010
When I wrote Syncopation, I had never unexpectedly lost someone I loved. I had to imagine Adele’s grief. I had to create the things she would think and feel and do. When Adele learns that her sister has drowned, she wants to be there as quickly as she can. She feels that if she can get there soon, there will be something left of Didine.
My mother died this week. She was sixty-eight and in good health. She had a massive stroke and died quickly. I live far away from my mother, but I felt a passionate need to get to her as quickly as possible. The shock and surprise are nearly overwhelming.
People grieve in different ways, as I can see around me. I am disconcerted by the fact that I’m grieving so much like Adele. I guess I shouldn’t be, as she is my creation. I have a pretty accurate imagination, I guess. It is still odd, as Adele and I are so different.
I said a few blogs ago that I have the best mother. I’m so glad I said it. She was a writer herself and was my best reader. She was amazing at being both supportive and constructively critical. We talked regularly, spending some part of every conversation on books and writing.
When I was packing for this trip, I didn’t take the library book I had been reading, instead I grabbed Pride and Prejudice for the plane, as a comfort read. Yesterday my sister and I were going through things in our mother’s room, and I discovered that she had a copy of Pride and Prejudice on her bedside table.
My mom was a quiet person, a literary person. She was also actively engaged in a variety of volunteer jobs, all with the goal of making the world a better place.
Because of the way she died, my mother was able to donate many of her organs. I get great comfort from this. My mother would be so happy that through her death, others will live.
I was trying to think of the best way to describe my mother, and I remembered Matthew Arnold’s words:
Sweetness and light.