May 14, 2014

Mom –

I’ve been trying really hard to keep myself organized and busy, but so many things that I used to do just don’t bring me any joy. And it makes me wonder if they ever actually did make me happy, or if they were just things I did for the sake of something to do.

I try and think about how you didn’t really do that much for yourself – I guess being a mom takes a lot of time, a lot of yourself, and that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. But the stuff that you did was the stuff that really made you happy. You volunteered at the library. You played softball every summer. You did yoga. You read. You watched tv. You had book club.

My list of things I did, at least where it stood a year ago, was way longer – and it looked better on a resume, I guess. But now, a lot of that stuff just feels frustrating and empty. So, I’ve been trying to figure out what makes me happy. It seems like such an easy question, but I’m actually really struggling with it. You would probably be able to tell me. You would say – “Do whatever makes you happy, and I’ll support you.” I guess all I’m looking for right now is your support. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about grief, and one of the little checkboxes on the surveys is always “I find myself wanting to do things that this person wanted me to do.” But there was really nothing you ever wanted or asked from me, other than my own happiness. Maybe that’s why I’m finding myself getting a little obsessed with what is it that makes me happy… Because I feel like that would make you happy and proud of me.

The list I have so far isn’t very long, and it’s simple, but I guess it’s a place to start.

1. Reading. I’m not doing very well with this one. I love to read, but convincing myself that I can do it just for fun and not to learn something or grow or change is difficult. Did college do that do me? I don’t know. You’d laugh, but I have an $18 fine at the library that I haven’t dealt with yet… Once that’s figured out, maybe I’ll do better. I’m still working on that one short Kerouac book. Now that Alex and I have combined our book collections, I have a lot of new books to begin with.

2. Writing. Writing to you has helped. I’ve been working on some longer pieces. I find myself sitting in front of the computer for hours at a time, typing. Again…  I have to convince myself that this isn’t a selfish activity, even though I’m doing it for myself and for nobody else.

3. Music. I found my flute and played a scale. I can still do it! There’s this activist marching band thing that I helped start back in October, and then got in the car accident and couldn’t get it back together. The other folks kept it going and now it’s a real thing – so I might jump back on board. And Joe sings in a beautiful Austin choir – auditions are in August and I’m thinking about going out for it.

4. Dancing. This one has been more challenging, because I’d have to strike out on my own. But… I miss it. It always made me happy and I always had fun.

5. Babies. Okay. And maybe this is just my biological clock – and here’s where I really miss you, because I feel like you would help me figure this out. But babies make me happy so I’m making a concerted effort to babysit babies. That might seem silly, but… well, I know you would probably giggle a little and then tell me it’s not silly, it’s fine, go play with babies. So, by golly, I will.

6. My Friends. Maybe a given. But I hadn’t really made that a priority. I’m trying really hard to spend time with people, especially the ones who’ve showed up in the past month. Hannah, Eliza, and Mari. Peachy. Christopher. I don’t know, everyone. Calling people. Staying in better tough. Meghan, Alison. Bernardita, Paloma, Chagan. It makes me feel better to reach out to people and share funny things with them and hear about their lives. Like I said, a given – but something I never put on my list before.

What’s missing from this list? Any kind of social justice organizing activist stuff. Not that it doesn’t make me happy… but thinking about it just stresses me out. I don’t know. I care. I still want to change the world, Mom. I just think I need to be happy first. For so long, I just rolled with it – I volunteered, I signed up for the next thing, I did the internship, I took the job. But now that I’m not working, and won’t be for a few more months, I really have the time to focus on these happy-making things. And I didn’t for a few months, because I was too overwhelmed with unhappy. I’m ready to try again.

Love you. Thanks for believing in me so much while you were here that I still feel supported and loved even though you’re not here anymore.


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