“A Mother’s Life” is part of a linked short story collection I’m working on. The collection involves how we often lose our true selves but always come back to our essential essence in the end and how often we hide parts of ourselves from those people closest to us. In this story, I wanted to reflect all the decisions we make throughout our lives that seem to add up to the sum of who we are. While the main character is preoccupied with her daily, hectic decisions, the culmination of her life ultimately hinges on one she made years ago.
When I read Nina Collins’ piece, “Graduations” (Fall 2012 Intima) I was struck by some core similarities between my fictional story and her creative nonfiction. How, like my character, Collins’ mother hides a painful truth from loved ones—her illness of metastasized breast cancer. How we care for our children and their futures sometimes more than our own. How we hold our secrets. How perspective is relative to experience.
The writer's perspective evolves as she grows older and gains experiences and responsibilities of her own and becomes a mother herself. Collins writes about her mother remarrying after she has left home for college: “Even if I was no longer there, I wanted my mother all to myself. From her side, I can see now, all these years later, that she was sick, and in love, and her kids were growing up, and she was trying to hold it all together as best she could.” She goes on to say, about her own daughter’s graduation from high school, that it was a “…brutal reminder of the way we carry our wounds and pass them on, there’s a part of me that has been flung back by this transition, to that place, twenty-five years ago, that place of enormous loss.”
As I read “Graduations,” I was struck by the universal truth that love and loss stay with us always, if not on our surface for everyone to see, but buried safe in our fragile heart.
Kim Drew Wright’s fiction and poetry has appeared in many literary journals, including The Pinch, Boston Literary Magazine, and The Milo Review. She graduated from the University of North Carolina and had an advertising career. Kim is CEO at Quick Wit Lit and produces Real Spiel, a newsletter for witty readers and writers. Learn more about her work at kimdrewwright.com. Wright's piece, “A Mother’s Life,” appears in Spring 2015 Intima.