I’ve spent Christmas afternoon in bed under an electric blanket with one of the sweetest presents ever. My in-laws gifted me with a copy of Sandra Cisnero’s newest book, Have You Seen Marie? It is set in the South San Antonio neighborhood where they live, a few blocks from the author, and since she is their friend, the fly sheet is personally inscribed to me. Special.
The story of loss, losing, and ultimately finding is Texas sweet tea with sides of pickled okra and chicharones. That is, ethnically diverse in a crunchy, pucker-your-mouth sort of way with a lot of sugar to wash it all down. It is off-beat comfort food. Healing.
Sandra wrote it after the death of her mother. A year ago today, my own mother got up from my brother’s couch, headed home “to call the girls,” (that would be me and my sisters), and never made it to the front door. We weren’t the best of friends, but the quotation (both in Spanish and in English) from Elena Poniatowska which introduces this little book, says it all:
It’s then I ask you, mama, my mother, my heart, my mother, my heart, my mother, mama, the sadness I feel. Where do I put it? Where, mama?
In the afterword, Sandra writes “It’s essential to create when the spirit is dying. It doesn’t matter what. Sometimes it helps to draw. Sometimes to plant a garden. Sometimes to make a Valentine’s Day card. Or to sing, or create an altar. Creating nourishes the spirit.” She speaks of being “between births,” leaving who we were and becoming something, someone else in the wake of a mother’s passing. She calls it an opportunity to be reborn.
So, for those who ask me, “Are you writing?” and to whom I’ve said, “No.” and for those who wonder what has become of their Facebook friend or promoter of causes and participant in projects, I say, with Sandra, “Beware, I am not as I was before.”
But I wrote this blog post. It is a beginning.