Different Strokes

Consistency is hard for me.

Not in quality so much as quantity, especially in terms of writing. I sometimes wish I were one of the driven, disciplined writers I read about who are compelled to write every day and who are further compelled to write a certain amount, whether it’s 2,000 words or 5 pages or whatever. Different strokes, I guess, since most of those writers complain about deadlines and feeling pressured, while I’m very good at deadlines–I actually appreciate them–because they provide structure and an accountability that remains largely uncultivated in my life.

Did I just write all around Robin Hood’s barn, as the saying goes, to admit I’m lazy and undisciplined when it comes to writing? Well…yes. I did.

Sometimes, though, I have an excuse. Actually, I don’t really believe in excuses, even though I offer them, as most people do. There’s no excuse for anything, but there’s usually an explanation, and mine is this: my mother had a stroke on June 11. Her second stroke in 10 years–a different stroke, so to speak.

Since that moment when I picked up my father’s message via voicemail at my office (I had been in a meeting when he called), everything has been about my mother’s situation. The drive to the hospital, waiting while decisions were made, waiting while a procedure was performed, waiting for my mom to wake up from sedation, waiting to see if she remembered us, waiting for her to get out of ICU, out of the hospital, out of rehab–we’re always waiting for the next step, which makes it extraordinarily hard to be fully present in the moment. What’s next? What do you mean? What will the result be? Can you predict the effect? Waiting for when and how and why and where and who.

My mother and her granddog Teddy just a day or two before her stroke.

So, despite my tendency to put off writing without a deadline or a paycheck attached to it, I wanted to write these words: my mother had a stroke on June 11, and that’s what our lives have been about since that moment. And as much as we wonder and speculate and confer, we don’t know what’s next. Maybe the only real deadline in life is “do it now before it’s too late.”

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