My cousin died just over a month after my breakup. I hardly knew her, and she didn’t know I was writing about our family, about our origin. She was our grandmother’s first grandchild, and the first to follow her into death.
My ambition for my book about Latvia was high. I wanted to create something impressive that would return to me the admiration I felt for my boyfriend. I aimed for the stars, represented by him. Just reaching the treetops would not be enough for me.
But I was already in the treetops. I was born an upward growing branch, but forgot the other branches around me, that shelter and warm me. The stars were bigger and more than branches, but silent and distant; beautiful but really just burning spheres of gas.
When my cousin’s branch broke off, I looked around rather than up. I settled back and wrote from my heart instead of my head. But not a word on the book about Latvia. My guilt for not fully knowing and caring about the family tree I was writing about hindered me, and still does.
My therapist quotes Heidegger, who said guilt was a call to care. I do feel called to care for those who care of me. Abandoning the stars hurts, but they give me no care, and I feel no guilt to them.
Soon Latvia will 100 years old. I had hoped to be finished by then. But instead, it is when I will begin.