Well, Shut My Mouth.

Mouth of Akhenaten or Nefertiti  circa 1353 BCE Image courtesy Met OASC

Mouth of Akhenaten or Nefertiti
circa 1353 BCE
Image courtesy Met OASC

The emotional fatigue of these last few weeks has taken some part of my voice with it. There is so much to say that I can’t seem to say anything. There are 130 drafts in my blog folder, but I haven’t written anything in days.

Last week, I went to a funeral in my hometown–Gay, Georgia. I want to write about the family cemetery and the fact that my grandmother already has a place marked for me that I’ll never use. I also want to write about how I lived in that town for so long, it’s where My People have lived for 100 years, but I have no idea where the black cemetery is. It can’t be that far from the streets I know. I have so many things to say about race that I can’t even start.

The preacher at the funeral said some things about religion and world views that sat so wrong with me that I had to pull out a piece of paper during the service and take notes on all that I couldn’t say in that moment. But the paper is still there in my purse. He has his way and I have mine and never the twain shall meet.

I made the widow laugh that day, as we leaned against a mossy stone wall by the raw red clay of her husband’s grave. I wanted to write about how important that was to me. It’s good to laugh. It’s one thing only the living can do.

Even on a sad day, I was happy to be with my family. Watching my cousin’s girls do gymnastics after lunch, barefoot in their black dresses. Admiring pictures of fish they have caught. Telling stories with people who have known my people for generations. Catching up with my sister and making plans for our next adventure with Vivi. Laughing with Brett when the police cars hit the sirens to began the procession and she pretended to run from Johnny Law.

I ate food cooked by good-hearted Baptist women and I wanted to write about that. Pound cake made by Miss Ann. Miss Ruth’s macaroni and cheese. Miss Marcia, my Sunday School teacher, whose voice takes me back instantly to when I was in single digits. I haven’t written about any of that.

I went back to Wesleyan for fall convocation on Tuesday. I talked to the senior class about doing their best. How their best will change. I stood in front of an auditorium filled with hundreds of people and I told them that I’ve struggled my whole adult life with anxiety and never feeling good enough. I want to write about that, too. How important it is that we be honest with our younger sisters, that no one sits alone and thinks, “It must just be me.”

I want to write about how my son’s feet, when I go in to check on him and he’s deeply asleep, how his tiny little feet take my breath away with their perfection of form and their total innocence. How soft they are, and strong and how one day not long ago, I could hold them both in one hand. How one day he will go off to college.

Tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of when Richard gave me Sadie’s ring and I want to write about that. I can’t yet.

Where I come from, when you are met with news that is so shocking your mouth just hangs open in wonder, sometimes the only thing to say is, “Well, shut my mouth.” You can say it when you’ve been corrected. Or when you’re gobsmacked. That’s kind of where I am this week.

Maybe writing this has shaken something loose. Maybe.

10 thoughts on “Well, Shut My Mouth.

  1. Helen Anne

    I have an old “Shoe” cartoon that shows Shoe (a bird who’s a newspaper editor) just sitting at his desk in a tree staring into the distance. A bird colleague comes by and asks, “Why aren’t you pounding the keyboard? Writers pound keyboards!” Shoe replies, “Typists pound keyboards. Writers stare out windows.”

    You’re just staring out windows. You’ll write when you’re through staring.

  2. Beth

    I am one of your avid readers…and I can’t wait until the window opens…in the meantime, just take in the view.

  3. Chris Antenen

    I might as well be looking out the window. My draft file is full of things I’m afraid to put out there for the world to see. I want to keep some things to myself for a while, so I post some drivel. They have the strangest titles. You aren’t alone.

  4. Jenna Hatfield

    “How their best will change.”

    Oh. That. So much that. I wish someone had told me that. I also wish some adult, on the Internet or off, had told me what anxiety looked like or felt like or acted like. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 24, parenting our oldest son. It then colored in all the gray in my life and made everything else make sense.

    I’m sorry for your gobsmacked week. I think making a widow laugh on such a day ranks as one of the highest honors. You are a gem.

    1. WordPress.com Support

      I spent sooooo many hours in therapy to learn about the best changing from day to day. When I was grieving, I thought I was making nice linear progress, so when I fell back into the depths of it, I thought I wasn’t doing my best anymore. Nope, my best was different that day.


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