(Me)mory, Re-learning and Moments

When you’re struggling with illness you fear losing a part of yourself. I am struck by the realization lately that I am not the same person I used to be. A diminishment of self is what I fear, instinctively. I try to hold on to fragments of my life, my memories, the parts that make up this “me.” I keep realizing that no matter how hard I try to document, to remember, to record, I cannot relive any moment. I cannot conjure the parts of my life I have lost and the parts of me I want back.

And here I go with my vagueness. Write it. Write it is what Bishop tells us. I’m including the poem here:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

I remember re-learning how to walk. That was an art. The art of losing, the art of mastering it again. The fear that came with trying again, placing one foot before the other, recognizing my toes were mine, my feet had to do their job. I had never imagined I would forget the mechanics of walking. Looking up, holding on to safe and sturdy arms, step by step. And then finally, I was finding my feet, my rhythm, and Mama was there, waiting. Watching, wanting to see if I would make it without falling.

That memory, that image, makes me think of how vulnerable we are. Childlike steps, just like a child takes her first steps as her mother watches, waiting for her at the finish line. And the joy that autonomy brings. Who would’ve thought that moment would repeat itself?

I’m at a vulnerable point in my life. I am trying to preserve parts of myself. I wonder if I’ll re-learn. I am struggling to retain information, and I sometimes feel a disfigurement of my mind is taking place. I just can’t put my finger on it. And yet, here I am, writing this, grateful that I can write it. I’m able to say I am afraid and stay with that. I said the words out loud the other day and while Shame was meddling I recognized the exposure of the bloodiness and messiness of MS. It’s messy. It’s hard to stay in the moment. It’s hard to avoid thinking of the future.

But as always Virginia Woolf saves me. I remember her diary entry in which she says “Stay, the moment. Nobody ever says it enough.”

Pictured below: teaching moment, 2018. Drama class. And is life (and illness) anything but a drama?

Here and There

I’m still your biggest fan. I know you’re mine. You’re no longer here, but I can still hear your footsteps approaching, the sound of your voice as you play with words, the laughter that would never die.

I remember the way you used to make sure questions were in the right context, and you’d ask me to explain again. By the time I would explain, we had moved on to other news, other worldly issues, and I would fall in love with your ideas all over again.

And now I think about coincidences, fate, destiny. I told you fate plays a role but it always negotiates. We chose separate paths and yet I wonder is there a bridge between us that can’t be severed? Can I visit you? Is it a betrayal to my present and future if I remain stuck where you are? Here, while you’re just over there?

You were the vision I manifested and that vision took both of our breaths away. There’s no heartbeat where you used to be and I leaf through words, all I have left, finding you between every syllable (and syllabus).

We start the semester and I wish you were part of this chapter. To witness a journey is to make it real. I don’t want to believe in ghosts but I see your raised eyebrow in my critical theory books, hear your long pauses (are you still there?) as we break it all down. I envy my past self for being where you are (were). Are, were, here, there – time and geography.

Your presence (absence) exceeds all.

A Double Moment in Time

You are a word in a sacred text. I hold the book carefully, afraid the pages will fall apart. I read you all the time. I still find the time.

I look at the time we spent together and in your world it’s not too long. Almost enough. But not enough. Barely meeting the bare minimum. Didn’t quite cut it.

In my world, in crip time, it’s the moment that counts. And it’s twice the time. It’s the time it takes for me to cross over to where you’re standing. It’s the moment I see your face in the mirror and I know I can see you- my eyesight is still here. Another double moment. It’s asking for the aisle seat on the plane, so I can make sure my legs work by the time I get to you. It’s that extra shot of B12 in the morning so I can stay awake for dinner.

I add all these moments together and the sum is enough to make two. The moments are always all I have, and I may be demanding, but I have never been greedy. I count my blessings and knowing (and losing) you adds to my life’s narrative. Double moment. A two. Climatic.

But in this moment, in this now, it’s anti-climatic. Losing you is a moment that lengthens time- what was it Bishop says? “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”

She was right.

It just makes the two a half.

Once Upon a Life

My latest collection of prose-poems is a collaboration with a young Kuwaiti artist. Here’s the link on Amazon, available as paperback and as an e-book on Kindle.

The book is also in Kuwait bookstores: Muse Cafe Bookstore (symphony mall) and Jarir Bookstore.

It was fun working with this artist as we never actually met! We went back and forth with sketches and words. The book is mainly about loss, death, time, and our emotions as vulnerable beings navigating the world.