Posted by: alegra22 | August 2, 2009

the narration of lilies

water lilly reflectionOnly moments ago, I stumbled into a pocket of self discovery. It happened while chopping kumara and stuffing buckwheat pancakes slathered with yogurt into my mouth. I stood outside my thoughts for a moment and became aware of the fact that I am the voice-over to my own life. Some people whistle to themselves or talk out loud, some people go over taxes, worry about the homeless, count calories consumed and expended, or fine-tune their plans of world domination.

Me? I narrate. Like the voice-over present in television dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy, I summarize the small and large acts that make up the moments of my days into metaphors and storyline. I only realized this tonight because in the middle of editing my own unfolding narrative about how my hormones were forcing me to do strange things like bake kumara muffins at an hour that is way past my bedtime, I realized that I was telling the wrong story.

The real story is this: I am worried about my mother. Beneath the surface stories that I have been telling myself, I have been thinking about my mother. Each moment floats like a water lily, a beautiful and distracting thing, beneath which a part of me swims through shadows and filtered light. My mother is with me everywhere in this place. I realize that I have no way of imagining the world without her presence moving like a current beneath me.

Yesterday, when my father told me that they are waiting on tests to find out if the cancer has spread, I responded with, “Okay, I won’t worry until I know we have a reason to worry.” We joked a little. We said, “I love you and no, let’s not think about this until we get the results.” And then I began narrating about the things that will keep me busy until Friday, when we will have an answer. I thought about the thesis, the house chores, the ultrasound on Wednesday morning, my sister and her husband freshly arrived in New Zealand, crammed into a camper van somewhere on the north island.

All day my surface has become crowded with water lilies vying for my attention, choking one another out until they are a sea of white and pink. Without acknowledging it, I have been descending into the quiet over and over again.  Beneath the surface I swim carefully between the flowers’ tangled roots and I find my mother. I gather her to me in memories. Together we wait. We dream. I tell us stories.



  1. The water lily effect applies to my relationship with my sister, and yes, like you, I am my own voice-over. I often thought it was just “talking to myself” in my head. Really, though, voice-over is much more appropriate.

    You are stunning, my friend. Absolutely stunning.

    • I can imagine your voice-over is very dynamic…in fact, I would love to hear it ;o)
      And thank you.

  2. Sweet potato muffins and buckwheat pancakes. Hmmm. I’d eat the pancakes in a nanosecond, but the muffins… can I have a banana nut muffin instead? Love bananas. Nuts, too.

    I hope your mom is okay, A. Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

    • the muffins turned out surprisingly well…if you like pumpkin pie you’ll like yam muffins.
      Thank you for the good thoughts

  3. Beautiful. Thinking about your mom too. Hoping for the best outcome possible. I love you.

    • ((hug))

  4. Thinking of you with every syllable. Sending love and hugs to you and your mom.

    • Thank you Adam. I have been thinking about you a lot lately, hope all is going well.

  5. This was so beautifully written Alegra, it brought tears to my eyes. The water lily passages I had to read again and again; the words and sentences were so perfect & complete, so full of feeling and meaning, heavy with depth (if that makes sense!).

    I love it…

  6. I always thought a narrator was the invention of a lazy writer. Or better yet, a writer with ADD. A character, pretty much void of character, who keeps your focus where your focus should be. Of course, your narrator just has to be different. Good job on that.

    Sending good juju/vibes/magic/thoughts/prayers/etc. your way.

  7. This was so beautiful. I went to bed thinking about this and woke up thinking about it. In my own narration this last week I have been trying to imagine death and an existence of sorts without you in it. I can’t. When I think of not waking up every day of my life thinking about you and Sol and Zaviera and our new little life forming in your womb, it is too painful to continue thinking about it. I will always be in the water lilies with you. Always.

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