Today I sent off the drawing I did for Sheila’s Chapbook. They asked us all to write something, but I couldn’t, I turned to my remaining form of expression since the most obvious abandoned me. I may post the drawing sometime, maybe not. It feels wrong to publish it for the public to see, like it’s something private. It’s for her family, but most of all it’s for Sheila, and if she can never see it why should everyone else? We’ll see. Preliminary drawings are in an earlier blogpost, and that feels ok to share.
Today I went to CSU to deliver my manuscripts to readers. I wrote a novel, I finished it– not really finished but what feels like finished– last week. Sheila read perhaps a third of it. A year of work, the hardest year, but because it sped up so much towards the end she only read the third. A little part of me feels guilty delivering my maybe finished novel to four people who aren’t Sheila.
When she died, I wanted to go to her office and take a picture of her door. She kept little clippings all over her door, most teachers do, but when I say her door I really mean the window next to her door. Sheila taped pictures all along the window so it was hard to look in. The colorful vision of that door window is part of what I think of when I think of Sheila, so I wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t.
Today was the first day I’ve gone to the school since Sheila died. The English Department, all of Rhodes Tower I guess, is labyrinthine, even with numbered signs it seems like you always go the wrong way right off. My first turn took me to Sheila’s door.
At first I thought it hadn’t been touched. The window was full of pictures. They were the wrong pictures though. Looking at them, I couldn’t remember what was on the door to begin with. Were there goldfish? I think there were goldfish, but maybe they were boats. Now there are leaves and trees. I think maybe there were leaves and trees before, just different ones. Or maybe the pictures are all the same ones that were there before.
I have tall stacks of Sheila’s spider thin pencil edits. The letters are small, hard to read and hardly there. They’re comforting though, like she’s reading over my shoulder. Some people are terse, they give praise so rarely that it’s a surprise. Sheila was sort of the opposite. She was so rarely negative that when she was sharp you blinked, and reconsidered. Mostly, she was not just encouraging, she was excited about you, really believed in you. Me.
I wrote a novel this year and last year. It’s been in my head so long, and I never seem to finish things, so I never really believed it until I wrote the last page. I got married in October, and when I got back from the honeymoon I heard Sheila was dead.
Getting married has launched a new phase in life. It’s not only that Matt and I starting a new family. I haven’t felt like a student for more than a year. I haven’t graduated yet, but that’s already lost my attention, I’ve started something else. Matt and I are talking about children, a house. Making plans. Sheila was my mom’s age– not old. I am afraid of death. Sometimes I feel so alive the possibility of death seems both impossible and horrible. Other times, it’s less threatening because I am happy. Somehow that also makes it more believable.