At the top of the 8th

by tamarjacobson

I have written about my "abyss" numerous times over the years [Here; herehere; and here]. This morning I am reminded of a letter my mother wrote to me over a decade ago.

In response to my having written her a loving and admiring letter at the time, she described her own feelings as:

there have been many times in my life that I felt I was standing alone on top of a cold mountain with icy winds roaring around … I am not a morbid person. That is just the way I felt but now your letter has made me feel a warm soft blanket wrapped around me and great security.

I am struck by the difference in metaphors between my mother and I. Hers is atop a cold mountain with icy winds roaring around. Standing high up out there in the open like that seems to me wide and expansive, even courageous. Whereas, my abyss is dark and deep below, quiet, and insidious. The similarities between us being feeling cold and alone. But our expressions of those feelings are different: open, on top, versus hidden below. 

In a way I am always looking for the differences between my mother and I, because there are so many ways I have not wanted to be like her. And yet, as I read what I wrote to her so many years ago, I recognize there is much I am pleased to have inherited from her:

Dear Mom … I thought about how much you have always helped others and how you enjoy life through all your suffering. I see, in myself, pieces of you … my strength, determination. The fact that I help anyone – doesn't matter who they are, where they come from – doesn't matter how much it costs or how risky it will be. That comes from you. My ability to not just accept what someone tells me – but check it out (research it!) – that comes from you … I learned from you that injustice and intolerance is not right. I learned about brutal honesty from you! I learned from you that one could always make things better. Even in my darkest hours, I always find a way out. I learned that from you. Money is no object! I learned that from you. Love of – no not love – passion for music – I learned from you. Passion for drama, I learned from you … You tirelessly search for happiness and find it in beautiful moments, beautiful gardens, … books, movies, with interesting people, and with children. You taught us all to love children – to respect children – and to fight for them. Each of us fights for our children - in our family – in deep, respectful ways. Sometimes the love and fight for our children seems weird – but we all know that our children are the most precious. You taught us all that.

Even though I dramatically fear heights, I think I would prefer to stand atop a mountain, than bury myself below the earth. Perhaps when I finally heave my leg over the rim, and pull myself completely out of the abyss, I will stand on top of a mountain, hopefully without icy winds roaring all around.

And so, I enter my eighth year of blogging. As I look back at so many of my old posts starting with my first blog, Tamarika, and then heading into Mining Nuggets, I do sense a change, a shift within me – an opening up. My mother gave me a typewriter for my sixteenth birthday. What a gift that was, even though recently I wasn't sure whether it was her dream to become an author, or whether she recognized that in me. Whatever it was, I carry it with me now, as yet one more way she and I are similar. One more way to cherish.

Eight years ago at Tamarika: Having fun