Pre-mourning: Slice of Life 28/31 #SOL20

The night before I turned 29, I sobbed. I forget what comment from what well-meaning relative released the river of tears, but there it was, there I was, crying uncontrollably about a life I couldn’t control.

At 28+ 364 days, I was unmarried with no children. I loved my job, knew that teaching was who I was, but I felt stuck in a life I hadn’t expected. My birthday, near the end of November, often coincides with Thanksgiving, so I was surrounded by family and usually felt buoyed by love. That evening, I was bereft. Where was the life I had dreamed of? What would become of me? What came next?

My poor father was perplexed by my outburst. He rubbed my back and repeated, “Honey, you’re turning 29, not 30.” And, to be fair to him, I didn’t cry even once the next year when I turned 30 – still unmarried, still childless, still in the same job. Then, I celebrated: a visit to wine country with my sisters and mother; a series of dinners and parties with friends; and, on the day I turned 30, a decadently expensive bottle of wine shared with a dear friend over our favourite takeout Peruvian chicken. No tears at all.

I often mourn before I am meant to. I anticipate the yearning, the loss, the melancholy; sensing an open door, these emotions respond by visiting before I have actually prepared for them. I should know better by now, but I am almost always caught by surprise. Tears come when I least expect them.

This month, I have written and published something every day for 28 days. 28 days ago, I was staring down a month that was far too busy for this challenge. I guessed that I couldn’t blog daily, but I wanted to write anyway. On March 7, we moved back into our home after months of renovations. On March 8, friends gathered to help us move in. On March 12, Ontario announced that all schools would close for three weeks at the end of the next school day. On March 14, some friends and I had a craft day. By March 16, the seriousness of COVID-19 had set in and physical distancing was in full force. My expectations of March were nothing like reality I encountered; I was able to write daily. I forced myself to write daily, even when I didn’t want to write.

Today is day 28. For the past week, writing daily has been tough. I had to consciously allow myself to write about what is actually happening, to name this moment in time. I had to forgive myself when I couldn’t seek out unfamiliar blogs to read. I had to accept that I didn’t always have the emotional resilience to respond to the wonderful comments on my own blog. Some days I *really* didn’t want to write. Some days I actively looked forward to the end of March, to the relief of not writing daily.

Today, day 28, not day 31, the pre-mourning has arrived. What will I do without this daily ritual, without the knowledge that I need to look actively for moments to record and share? What will I do as this virtual community dissipates, convening only on Tuesdays? This blog, this writing, this group has sustained me through the transition into a reality I had never imagined. What will I do without it?

At age 28+364 days, I could not anticipate the fullness of my life today. I had no secret foreknowledge of the wonders that were on their way. My mourning was real but unmoored from reality because I didn’t know what was to come. I didn’t know that turning 30 would be easy. I couldn’t have guessed at my husband, my children, my life in a new country. I couldn’t fathom the adventures that awaited.

On day 28 of the March Slice of Life Challenge, I am pre-mourning the end, and I am trying to remember that there are, undoubtedly, wonders to come. There almost always are.

Still, if you are reading this, I miss you already.

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17 thoughts on “Pre-mourning: Slice of Life 28/31 #SOL20

  1. Oh, this is dear! I, too, am already missing this community…and wondering why I shouldn’t challenge myself to write each day of April, too, if only to document the strangeness of this time. Thank you for this heartwarming slice!

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  2. Oh my goodness, this is brilliant writing. I hovered here: “I often mourn before I am meant to. I anticipate the yearning, the loss, the melancholy; sensing an open door, these emotions respond by visiting before I have actually prepared for them” The mourning before an event – so insightful and the arc of this writing is so clever. I, too, am feeling the complex and contradictory sense of relief and loss that the end of this month suggests – I blame you. For being an inspiration, for helping me become a better writer, connecting me with a community of writers, and having one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing life – I’m celebrating you as a writing teacher.

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  3. Like Melanie I paused at the sentence “I often mourn before I am meant to.” I had to think about what that means. Your illustrations clarify and the warmth of your memories make this slice bittersweet. I am so glad you are here, that we could be here together. If I have a writing buddy here, a partner in crime and commiseration, it is you. It blows my mind that you did all the things you did in this March 2020 and still managed to not only post a slice but comment generously all over the place. I am in awe of your generosity and persistence. I have yet to mourn. I’m not that far yet but probably will be in about 2 weeks.

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  4. My first reaction was empathy–I cried the night before I turned 18, not wanting all that adult responsibility to come rushing at me. I wasn’t far off, in retrospect!
    My second reaction was also empathetic, when I paused to think about what a support this community has been this SOLSC, far beyond just the usual comments on our writing. It’s gotten us through a very odd time unlike any other. I wonder if there will be a formal request to continue this through the shelter-in-place orders?

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  5. Yes, you have described what it’s going to be like this time next week with no need to slice daily. It is worth mourning about, even though we often don’t feel like writing anything. Thanks for sharing your ‘pre-mourning’ in the past as well. Life and our emotions so often take us by surprise!

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  6. This is lovely! I too am a bit happy and looking forward to the extra not-blogging-time that is almost upon us (especially with all of this extra computer time spent on distance learning crush), but am also bracing for the loss of being connected with a community of wonderful writers that is so diverse and yet shares so much in common. Being married for 27 years to a born and raised Torontonian myself, makes me feel especially connected to you and your life in Ontario. It is a place and a people that are very near and dear to our family. I cherish your friendship through the deepest parts of us shared through written word. I thank you for validating that, too.

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  7. I am feeling the same exact way … thank you for putting my thoughts into such eloquent words. To think, we thought writing for 31 days was going to be the challenge. I too miss you all ready!

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  8. Oh yes, I have this feeling every March at some time or another. But it’s especially acute this year because of what a different March this has been and how sustaining this community has been this month. And the structure of daily slicing and commenting is also so helpful. I hope there will be some kind of April challenge that I can’t resist joining! And this is all so beautifully and thoughtfully written.

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  9. I miss you already too… I’ve also been mourning this. Even though I have nothing to write today, I’ll be sad to not have those daily connection and reason to examine my life for writable moments. I bet I can probably name plenty of my own premature mourning moments. I keep thinking how different life was when this challenge started. I remember remember reading your first post, surprised that you had considered not writing. I’m glad you are here.

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  10. Amanda, This is a wonderful post that so eloquently describes not only how many of us (at least me) feel and also how many times we mourn before we even need to. SOL has been especially meaningful this year. I’m glad to have met you via these pages. I so admire the way you express yourself. Soooo, I’m a follower and just won’t say good-bye.

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  11. Clearly your post taps into emotions that many of us are feeling. I was thinking along the same lines today. I’m a little scared honestly. How will I manage without this lens? this community? I seriously considered not slicing this year, and yet slicing has been such a source of comfort during this month–a month we never could have imagined weeks ago. Slicing has given me a sort of anchor in these tumultuous seas. I will sorely miss the daily comfort of sharing the journey with others.

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  12. I can relate to so much that is written in here. I always feel sort of a let down too when March is over. It is odd not to contribute through blogging and see what other people have blogged about. I will miss this, too

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  13. Every year I think I’ll keep writing daily but I rarely make it past Wednesday of the first week. But I come back every Tuesday (well, most Tuesday’s!) and appreciate that smaller community and the routine of writing as much as I appreciate March. It’s amazing to me how writing brings people together. One of the original Slicers hasn’t been with us this year and I’ve so missed her posts. Im pre-mourning the end with you!

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  14. I’m not a pre-mourner and cryer, too. While you both anticipate loss and opportunity, I see the words in this post as hopeful. I know so many of us, you included, have sought and found other ways to connect. We’re not going anywhere. We’ll read and write together and meet in virtual places both new and familiar because we’ll see familiar people and expand our connections to new ones. I hope to see you come April 1 on Ethicalela.com so go sign up and get ready to write poetry w/ me.

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  15. Ok, lady. This is the third (third!) time you’ve made me cry today! I really, really, really love this post. This: “these emotions respond by visiting before I have actually prepared for them.” Yes, I get this. I have been mourning the end of March too, and, I, too am a pre-mourner! Oh my god. The presence I’ve lost mourning what is to be. I’ve been moored by this Slice of Life community this month; some days, it’s the only thing I’ve had to look forward to, some connection to creative strangers, fellow teachers, who have come here together for the same purpose. I am already feeling untethered, knowing I don’t “have” to write in April. All of those questions you asked. I have the same ones. And, I am missing you already, too. Thank you, thank you, for sharing this post, Amanda!

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  16. I wish I could write as eloquently as you do. I have tons of thoughts mixed up in my head, about the distance learning, the writing challenge, about change, but I haven’t found a way to sort and put them on paper, yet. I can say that the daily writing has kept me going, has lifted me.

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