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February 12, 2011

Words Fail

From time to time, over the years, I’ve filled this space with sentimental posts about the loss of my dog, the death of a rock star, or the passing of some Internet acquaintance whom I’ve hardly known. Not infrequently, when my writing took such a turn, my mother would email to note something profound in the words or to carry on the deeper conversation with me. Now that it is she who has died, literary virtuosity is not so comfortably within my grasp.

Oh, I’ve been writing. Some two dozen single-spaced sheets of digital office paper are now filled in my attempt to come to terms with her passing — even to convince myself that it's real. But there's less profundity than loss, or rather, that which is profound is so huge as to have no detail to the horizon and is opaque beneath the undulating waves of plans that will remain forever imaginary. No neat summary of my emotions is conceivable. "What now" is not a statement, but an honest and heart-rending question.

Moreover, those pages are unpublishable, not just because they lack conclusion, but because Mom was not one to have her ordeals displayed in public, and the intricate feelings of her son upon her death seem to me as much her ordeal as mine. Maybe someday, I'll cloak them in verse or fiction and mark her influence indirectly through the homage of a dedication.

My mother has always been a critical part of the audience for which I've written, even when I intended my writing to have no audience. Now I can only pray that she is, in literal fact, an audience not only of that which is henceforth unpublished, but also that which has heretofore been unsaid.

And I can only be grateful that, whatever difficulties I caused her, I never failed to say that which I will not fail to say, now: I love you, Mom.

Sally Anne Potter Katz

Posted by Justin Katz at February 12, 2011 9:38 PM