In between drafting this trivial blog post, I listened to the NY Times "Patient Voices" series for some research on schizophrenia that I need for a writing project - a writing project which is a not-too-veiled attempt to help connect me to my mentally-ill mother, who has since died and whose voice and voices have been silenced forever.
I listened to the series getting no closer to my mother. How totally ignorant of me to think that mental illness paints a broad stroke of sameness. Each person's struggles and joys and creativity were uniquely theirs, as they should be. I listened to the series, and it made me realize that I don't know how my mother felt about the incessant voices and what they said to her. But even more, it made me realize that I will never know her favorite color or happiest childhood memory or what it was like the first time she fell in love.
I don't know if it was the mental illness that stood in the way of me finding out, or if it was I just didn't take the time to ask. Perhaps in our own aging we reach back for an ancestral thread to keep us anchored, but in my case my hands have slipped through, losing that rope forever.
So I ask the few people left who knew my mother, and they give me what information they can. Like seeing images through a streaked windshield, I have flashes of who she was before the cacophony descended.
And I become incredibly sad. Sad for the loss of my mother, not once but twice.
So I go back to writing my blog about organic fruit and french fries and neat rows of canned goods, because I realize that there is a need in this world -- or at least in my heart -- for more than just a little frivolity.