I’ve barely written anything in the last week.
That’s not like me, and also, what IS like me anymore?
I’ve tried very, very hard to keep this whole thing afloat: my family, and my passion projects, and my work, and my faith in democracy and science and kindness and humans, but…
My eleventh grade English teacher told me sentences cannot ever begin with the word “however,” so I put them in the middle of sentences, or maybe a third of the way into sentences, like this: There is not, however, a guarantee that working hard for years and years on a project will guarantee the outcome I want. And also, this: I believe in myself and my strength; however, lots of powerful and gifted people never get what they want most.
The however was a spit-between-two-fingers, a knock-on-wood, a ward against what followed it. If I said it, I was protecting myself against the bad words that came next: however, there’s a chance he could win; however, my child might feel all alone if we send her away to college; however, the people I love might get sick; however, no one might ever want to publish my book; however, I might feel trapped and afraid and deeply lonely and bored and uninspired and on the verge of tears all the time.
And however came true. All of it. And a lot of it came true in the same two week period, my keep-the-evil-eye-away spit-between-the-fingers hitting me square in the face. It’s sticky and unpleasant, and I am stuck without a tissue or a napkin or even an old receipt to wipe it off. I just stand here, day after day, spit on my face, wards against pain turning into pain itself.
And I don’t know what’s next.
I’ve said before that the worst feeling in the world is in this sentence: I’m right, but it doesn’t matter. When my daughter was sick and I knew what the doctors were telling me wasn’t correct, it didn’t matter. It didn’t change the trajectory of her treatment for years. It made me feel anxious and powerless and terribly alone, yelling into the void.
When I fought to tell our story, the fact that parents wrote to me from all over the world to say they wanted more didn’t matter; I cannot find a publisher for it. I am right that those parents deserve this story. It doesn’t matter.
This blog was brought into the world to build a platform and a community for the story that I knew the world needed. But the world now needs so much more: a cure for COVID-19, lighter and airier stories to distract us, regime changes, assertive bursts of love. The drop of pain that is big enough to envelope me is a tiny molecule in the ocean of our shared grief here in 2020. For now, the end of the journey for me will have to include a way to keep this blog alive, even if it’s static most of the time. I get hundreds of visits a month from people who search for:
I can’t let those people click and see nothing.
So, this is a cold day for me, a shivering wet day in my however-shaped tear drop of sadness, but if my real goal was to make families like mine feel less alone, I know I can keep doing that by leaving this blog here, despite the murky future of the book it was meant to sell. If you reached this post by one of those search terms above: stay. poke around. find yourself reflected in these posts. send me an email. feel your hurt.
You’re not alone.