The last time I absolutely had to write or else my brain would explode was in June. I’d watched something and I truly needed to write about it in order to process it. Let me put it this way, someone died in a horrific way. I watched this show on a Sunday night, and then all day Monday, I took my mom to many doctor appointments. We ended up at the hospital for her final appointment. We’d taken the shuttle over and had some time to kill, and she was excited to look around the gift shop.
See, her husband was in the intensive care unit there after his bile duct cancer, and despite him having a very good prognosis, he had given up. Eventually he was flown home, admitted to a nursing home, and died there, but before that, he spent months in that hospital. And so did my mom, often taking breaks in the courtyard filled with beautiful flowers and shopping in the hospital gift shop. It truly is a great gift shop, and they carry amazing things.
That hospital is also the place where my daughter “lived” for much of her first year, and so did my husband and I. It was our home away from home. I knew which days they were going to serve Chicken and Wild Rice soup in the cafeteria, and I knew the best waiting rooms to escape to when I needed a break. Luckily, after many operations, my daughter is doing well and thriving and growing, but we didn’t know the outcome back then, so the hospital is not a super place for me.
After watching that horrific death on my large screen television and reeling from it the night before (I bawled and stared at my screen as if it would suddenly show me a different image), I was then thrown into a situation where my mom’s health and the risks of her upcoming surgery, were being talked about. In a hospital that holds a lot of memories.
There’s a lot of green marble and warm wood in those hallways. The lighting is odd—dark but light somehow. There’s a courtyard that has a beautiful fountain bubbling and mounds and mounds of tulips bloomed. There was plenty of construction at the time as well. That bothered me. For over a year, that was my second home. I knew how to get out to the fountain so I could sit next to it and be calmed by the lull of the splashing, and I knew exactly how to get to the beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel. In June, it was all different and much of it was closed off to the public.
And the image of that dying girl from the television kept popping back into my head.
In the gift shop, my mom and daughter looked at every little thing on each shelf with such interest that it took them forever. After all, we were killing time until the next appointment. What I noticed were the Lindt truffles my husband used to buy for me as a diversion while we waited for my daughter to be returned from another day under doctors’ knives. And I saw toothbrushes. People often need to buy a toothbrush at the hospital, because so much of the time, you don’t know your loved one is going to be there. Sweaters for chilly waiting rooms. Robes. Decks of Cards. Shower caps. Who uses shower caps anymore?
I had to leave the gift shop because as I stood looking at a shelf filled with games and inspirational magnets, that dying girl was back behind my eyes. When I shut them, the image was even more vivid. I could actually hear the noises she made as she died on my television the night before.
I went out and stood in that green marble hallway and looked out toward the burbling fountain. I assumed it was burbling, but I couldn’t hear it. I could see the yellow and pink and peach tulips though. And I cried.
I tried very hard not to, but my throat closed up, my vision blurred, and tears streamed down my face. Nurses and nuns and patients walked by me. Some paid attention to me, but other’s looked away. I’m sure they assumed someone I loved was ill or injured or had maybe even died. Instead, I was crying over a stranger, a fictional character that I had initially hated when she was introduced on the show.
My daughter came out to find me, asking to show me something, so I did my best to pull myself together. Nana, my mom, bought it for her, of course. Even in the store the tears started again. I went back to the hall, running my hand across the warm wood, hoping it would comfort me better than the cold marble. Then my mom and daughter were ready to go.
No one ever asked me what was going on with me that day. I think it was because I was crying a lot that week because I was under a great deal of stress. When not sad, I was very grouchy.
Yet the image of that girl taking her last breath refused to leave me, and as soon as I got home, I sat down in front of the computer and wrote a very short scene. The girl was replaced; I wrote about a man, and I wrote about his lover who had to walk in and see that man take his last breath. As soon as I wrote, the intense emotionality left me. It was like I was able to type it out of me.
But that is the last time I felt compelled to write. I want to write like that again, but without all the drama, please.
I added on to that little scene, but it still needs a lot of work. I thought that would be my next big project, but I don’t think it can be. It makes me feel stuck. But yesterday I had a crazy, light-hearted story come into my head. That’s been bouncing around all day, and I even took time to play around on baby naming sites. My other character naming tool is my daughter, and she had a fun time coming up with secondary character names today.
Many times, I think writers wait for those moments of what feels like “divine intervention” or their muse “talking” to them before they will write. I certainly find more joy during those moments. For months now, I’ve been editing and reworking and doing all the not fun parts of writing. I miss it. I miss writing so much that I ache when I think of that day in June when I poured my soul into a keyboard.
I think it is time to write again.