Monday, March 18, 2013

Experience Makes Better Writers



So, my mom passed away on March 4th. Many of you know about her courageous fight against cancer. Hers was very aggressive and we knew there would be a dark night when she wouldn’t win.

One is never prepared to lose their mother. Especially if you have good one like mine. My mom was one of the best. We spoke on the phone nearly every day, she was the person I went to for advice and she was my best friend (next to my husband). I wasn’t the only one whose life she touched. Hundreds of people braved a big snow storm to attend her funeral. The place was packed because she was well loved in the community. And the funeral turned out just the way she wanted it. It felt perfect, despite the snow.

Those last few days of her life were hard. She was in extreme pain and nothing could assuage it. It was hard to watch, hard to know how to help her. Yet she stayed the lovely person she always was, so patient with us and the confusion clouding her mind. I slept on the floor beside her hospice bed those last few nights. Somehow I knew she would have wanted that. My sister, dad, and I took turns ensuring she had her medications up until the last, just in case she had pain she could not communicate to us. And then the night she slipped away, her breathing grew less labored until it stopped completely. When the room grew still during the early morning hours past midnight, I didn’t need to touch her body to know her spirit had left it. The most beautiful part about my mother was gone to places the pain could not follow.

Losing a mother is a defining point in a person’s life. Perhaps that is why many children’s books and movies kill off the moms—it’s the ultimate moment of no-return. The hero(ine) must move on from that point forward. The hero’s journey fits perfectly with the event.

When my mom was first diagnosed, I started a book about a daughter whose father was dying of cancer and he asked her to go on his bucket list vacation for him. She does, but begrudgingly. I dove into the book almost flippant with the thought of her losing her dad. Now I have a profound understanding of how hard that really would be for my character. She would not act as nonchalant as I had made her.

All our life experiences make us better writers and better voices for the human condition. Especially those pivotal moments in our lives like I’m going through. Pivotal moments are sometimes the happiest—like a wedding day, the day we land our dream job, or the day we find true love—but usually they are the saddest or most trying. As hard as it is, I’ve learned the trying moments are the ones especially we should write through. It is when we understand each others' hearts and can relate to one another the best.

In my non-fiction story of my mom’s bucket list vacation, we had a happy ending. She had always wanted to see the fall colors in the New England area--and the lighthouses. She was able to make that trip with me. She and I have memories of being together in Maine that will last forever. 


I love you, Mom. I always will.

20 comments:

  1. Oh Jackee! I am so so so sorry. Truly and deeply sorry. This is such a wonderful post in her memory - and the best pic - mother and daughter with such smiles! My deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to you and your family.

    Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so sorry for this loss---so hard to lose your mother. I'm glad you had that time together in Maine and that you were there in her final days. You will change many lives when you get to the point where you use this in stories.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, Jackee. I'm in tears. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. I can feel your love for her here, and that will never leave you. xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jackee,
    I am sorry for the loss of one so loved! A Mother!!! May you find peace in memories.

    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A beautiful yet sad ending to a life of love and friendship between a mother and a daughter. Hugs to you, Jackee, and may the many loving memories you and your mom shared comfort you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thinking of you, Jackee. There is no love like that of a child for her mother.

    xoxo-

    Shelley

    ReplyDelete
  8. So sorry, Jackee. I can your mother was wonderful. She raised a fantastic daughter! Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So sorry for the loss of your mother Jackee, it will get easier but you'll never forget the good times. I lost my mother on March 5th 2010 and blogged about it a few days after the funeral,it was cathartic. My mam was 94 and had dementia for a few years but we had her a long time so she had a long life. Your mam had a disease which is harder to deal with.
    Every strength for the coming months...
    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  10. So sorry for the loss of your mother. Thank you for sharing your moments. Thinking of you and praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The look on your face in that picture made me tear up. I'm so so sorry. I wish we didn't have to go through such things, but everyone must, it's part of the story of our own lives.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my mother to cancer a few years ago, too. I still miss her, although I was glad she was no longer suffering after she passed. My thoughts are with you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Truly moving. Thank you for sharing that with us. Lovely sentiments at a horrible time. Your mom clearly did a wonderful job with her daughter. May we all do as well. With tears in my eyes,
    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm so sorry about your mom, Jackee. Knowing she's no longer in pain does help. I'm lucky enough to still have my mom, but I lost my dad (also to cancer) over a decade ago. Still think about him every single day. Treasure those memories of those leaves & lighthouses. Every time you see them, you'll have great moments to remember. *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am so sorry for your loss. This post was heartbreaking and yet full of beautiful memories.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So sorry about your loss, Jackee. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm sorry I didn't see your post earlier, Jackee. You have written a beautiful post that your Mom would be proud of. You are an amazing beautiful woman. I'm so glad we know each other.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Jackie. It must be so hard. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.

    Jai

    ReplyDelete