A Mother’s Rage

by  Christian A. Brown  |  February 1, 2015  |     No Comments

Hmm…An interesting week. Where to begin? Well, a friend of mine, an artist extraordinaire, is currently working through some trauma from their (gender neutral, for privacy reasons) childhood. All sorts of skeletons are being found in their family’s closet. I wish them the best through this journey, even though they are brave, beautiful and strong enough to be undaunted by challenging the darkness. Flowerly? I suppose, but I’m a flowery guy. We all go through shit in our lives, some of us more than others. The shit is what gives us character; talking about the shit in poetic, abstract terms can emphasize the spiritual nature of fighting our demons. We need to have these battles; each and every one of us. Take away all the bad stuff in life and I’m convinced that we wouldn’t appreciate the good stuff so much.

Journeys, battles, epic prose…I have something bubbling on the backburner: a piece on cancer, my mother and her odyssey. At the moment the piece is still too rough to share. Still, I’d like to kick off a shift in narrative for this month, where we’ll be talking about that black shadow in the room we’d all rather not discuss: Death. Some of you may know that the end of January marks the anniversary of my mother’s passing. Some of you may find it strange to have an “anniversary” for an individual’s death. However, let’s remember that the rituals and grief surrounding a loved one who has passed on are always for the living, and exist only to entertain and console ourselves. I presume that the dead don’t care what we get up to in their name. They’re off being dead, wandering the galaxy, dispersed as energy into the soil, reincarnated, or hanging out with St. Peter. I don’t know the answer. I won’t say with certainty where they are, other than not here. As you can imagine, with the momentous date and the piece that I had started working on, I pulled a Moria and dug too deep.

DugtoodeepNothing quite as big as that fellow, mind you. Nonetheless, I touched demons and buried skeletons that I hadn’t encountered in years and years. Even after we heal, I find we just sort of “scab”. You can pick off that layer, at any time, and the memories and experiences are just as raw and real as if they’d happened yesterday.

When my mother first started treatment, I don’t’ recall writing anything at the time aside from my manuscript, which I was determined to finish should the unthinkable come to pass. Sadly, the unthinkable did come to pass, and mom did get her hands on a draft of something. We won’t call it Feast of Fates, since what my mother read was not the same book you’ve all enjoyed. Anyway, during my little spiritual-archeology dig this week, I found writing. Lots of the stuff, saved on my computer with dates instead of titles. I had thought these files were notes or useless grocery lists this whole time. Instead, they were various reflections, half-journals and poems. What follows is something that I wrote on my phone, then later saved to a notepad document, as I observed my mom during one of her very first appointments at Princess Margaret Hospital. We were packed in a waiting room full of people in various stages of lymphatic cancer. She was terrified, but still brave. Her bravery and defiance is what I remember the most.

 

A Mother’s Rage

Churning voices

Stirring sighs

Protracted silence

Wandering eyes

 

I wonder how I found myself

 

Here

 

I want to dance

To see the lights

A song in Paris

Eldritch sights

 

The yawning fear

Coiled beneath

A delicate box

A blade unsheathed

 

Wielding this fury

I shall not surrender

I shall not drown

 

As I lay thee down to rest

This love of All held to my breast

My secret box, inside I keep

To sip like liquor’s sweet caress

In my quiet

This angry solitude

This ferocious will

 

It keeps me from going quietly

 

Into silence

And into light

 

I shall endure

 

As timeless as the tides

 

Their melody

And grace

Is my own

 

—Christian A. Brown, 2010

 

I’m not sure that it’s a personal favorite. I wrote it years ago before the editors whipped my prose into shape. I do, however, believe that poetry is best—for me, at least—when left with that “stream of consciousness”, in-the-moment vibe. So that’s how I saw things in that moment. At that time, I was still quite shy about showing my work. Thankfully, mom asked what I was doing and if she could see. I am glad that I showed her the poem, because—after a tiny cry from us each—she hugged me and told me that she ‘didn’t know what to say’. I assumed her silence was because I had said enough, or said the right words. Words have such power. I learned that lesson that day. Right there, was the start of her path to acceptance, and my path toward something else, too. We often forget that beautiful things bloom from the darkest soil.

Here we have something that began in anger and ended in peace and love. With my friend’s struggles this week, my personal experience with similar torments, and reflections of my mother’s passing all vying for the microphone in my mind, I continue to focus on these most valuable lessons. Our pain defines us. It teaches us humanity, sympathy, and gratefulness. In the coming weeks, you and I will be talking about Cynthia: her life, her triumphs, her failures and finally, her death. An ending that is no ending at all, really. When our journey through her life comes to an end, I hope that you are as bright with hope and bittersweet fondness for her tale as I am.

We are stronger and braver in the presence of others. Thank you, in advance, for your bravery and strength, and for taking this trip with me. It has been a long time coming.

All my love,

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—C

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