Who Am I Now?

Who Am I NowIn the photography lab at Tompkins Cortland Community College, a student played back a video she’d taken.
“Look,’ she said, handing me the camera. I watched a silent scene of my instructor patiently speaking with some non-descript middle-aged woman. Wearing my favorite reddish-color, the woman pointed and pontificated.
“Oh my gosh. That’s me,” I said three minutes later as the segment ended and the screen turned black. Who would know me? I hadn’t even recognized myself.

Who am I now? I wondered the first day I came home after my daughter died. Am I still the mother of a daughter?
“What am I supposed to do with my life now?” I asked after traveling alone to Australia to scatter Marika’s ashes.
Who am I? I considered as I wrote the author bio for my book proposal. “Designer and dreamer in Ithaca, New York,” I used to say. For years I was, “art teacher, special education teacher.” Now I type, “writer, blogger,” and remember Marika wanted to be these things. “And Photo-shopper,” I add, feeling I’m getting closer.

On Sunday August 3rd, 1PM at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, I will read for 30 minutes from my book. If you come to my reading you will not see a bereft, shell-shocked mother with tissues lining her pockets. The depressed, directionless wimp who couldn’t consider tweeting or exposing her fears online will not be there.
You will see someone who still tries to duet with her dead daughter, who appreciates the ways her daughter’s dreams have affected her own. You will see me stretching into my new role, humbled but not devastated by what life has thrown at me. Somewhere in the process of learning to accept change and challenge, I’ve allowed myself to grow.

Some days I don’t recognize myself.

 

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6 thoughts on “Who Am I Now?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I love this piece, Robin. It made my spine tingle with excitement. Congratulations on your reading. I will miss it and hope it will be taped for those of us who can’t be there.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Hi Elaine, my big sister. Can I really do this reading without you? Thanks for the “… spine tingle with excitement.” I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. So good, as always, to hear from you.

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    Thanks, Robin, for sharing your self-inspection and growth. I periodically ask myself this question since Adrian died. At first, it was good to just keep doing what I’d always been doing–painting and running my art business. But over the past year or two, I’ve been questioning who I am and slowly moving into different, more spacious roles.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Don’t you love how our children can still move us? Thank YOU, Lynne. And thanks to Adrian who is part of who you are. I love that name – Adrian. I wonder if it’s because it has the same 3 vowels as in Marika.
      Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Angela Schmoll

    I so recognize that feeling. Who am I now? “…you will not see a bereft, shell-shocked mother with tissues lining her pockets. The depressed, directionless wimp who couldn’t consider tweeting or exposing her fears online will not be there…. You will see me stretching into my new role, humbled but not devastated by what life has thrown at me. Somewhere in the process of learning to accept change and challenge, I’ve allowed myself to grow. Some days I don’t recognize myself.” I find myself at a funeral home offering comfort to a stranger whose words are my own from seven months ago, friending people who have undergone tragedies so I can offer encouragement, sending advice to people I’ll never meet because I know them sometimes as well as I know myself, and then looking at the tattoo of my son’s name and realizing as I must repeatedly that this is all because of the addiction that ate away the little boy I knew until it consumed him. We aren’t who we thought we were meant to be, but probably who we were intended to be all along.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      It makes me so happy to “hear” you Angela. You are one of those I feel I “know …sometimes as well as I know myself.” You have a tattoo of your son’s name too? One of these days I hope to find you in person, not just on Facebook and Google. Thanks for being out there with those beautiful grandchildren.

      Reply

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