Forgiving one self for not pursuing one’s dreams is more difficult than you would imagine.
Here I am about to write, yet again, that I haven’t written a word since a significant amount of time. I do this sometimes when I am utterly disgusted with myself. That’s when I usually have a breakthrough and write like Alexander Hamilton (like I’m writing out of time).
But this time, it’s different. This time there’s Cancer.
I capitalize Cancer because I have to respect a disease that will kill you slowly and silently, a disease that will ravage you and steal from you much more than a body part.
My mother has cancer. This is a thing. It is a true thing. And it is a thing that has invaded my life like it’s invaded my mother’s body. Cancer is at the center of my world now. It is appointments on my calendar. It is conversations with doctors. It is tests and long car rides and smiling when you want to cry. It tightens every experience. Everything has to be the best. Everything has to be perfect. Everything has to be memorable. Because Cancer forces you to look at the world differently. Mediocre will not do, not even the thought of it will do.
So, I haven’t put words on paper or on a screen. There have been several publishing opportunities and I have let them swoosh by on the folds of disinterest.
And I simply can’t forgive myself for missing them.
This weekend, two of my friends from Dos Brujas – Connie Mesa and Natalia Sylvester – were in town for the National Council of Teachers of English conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Both of these badass women are joys. And I learn from them every time I see them.
We talked shop and while both are making progress with their writing, I wasn’t. I am not. We talked about why. I told them about mom and work and being the caregiver. They told me, both at different times during the weekend that it was a lot. What I was going through was a lot. What I was doing was a lot. In their way, they were telling me it was okay. I had to be okay with not writing for a while.
I HAVE to be okay with not writing for now. I HAVE to be okay with what I’m able to write when I can.
This reminded me of something Marjorie Liu told me a couple of years ago at VONA. It’s okay to stop writing. It will be there when you get back to it. You don’t lose those skills. ‘
Yes, I know that I need to focus on Cancer because it is a bitch. I know that I should be given a pass from finishing my memoir or a pass from working on my novel. I should be given many passes. I don’t want them.
This is what I do, folks. I write. And at a time where things are chaotic, it is the page that has pulled me through. It has been the words and the worlds that I have created that have kept me sane.
But I’ve learned this lesson already and here we are again, taking a similar test but with more of a challenge. I have to learn to forgive myself. I have to be okay with not writing for a while. I have to be okay with writing sentences when I can write. I have to be okay with just living and making my life simple so I can make it okay for my mom.