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When I first read the poems of "Air Mask", I was taken by their simple, plainspoken, sometimes brutal, honesty. Vanita has been many people in her life... daughter, woman, wife, mother, teacher, friend, benefactor and, here, caregiver. It is in this latter capacity you see all the others brought forward and introduced through her poetry.
"Air Mask" is particularly fitting as the title poem. The caregiver must indeed make sure she or he is getting enough oxygen before trying to help anyone else.
Vanita asks us to understand a little more about the life of a caregiver. The burden of trying to provide for another’s most basic human needs often leaves many of them gasping for air. Yet most forge ahead, putting on a brave face - a mask - for the rest of the world to see, including the one needing, and getting, the care.
Vanita has lifted the mask. With the strength that perhaps only others who have experienced life as she has known. The strength of an overarching love transcending the pains, illnesses, fears and sheer weariness that often define the life of a caregiver.
We can only be thankful that she has.
Praise from Readers
(Name) is in bed resting, calm - he looks lovely and it makes me very very happy that his body is not disturbed just now.
So, I have read your poetry.
In between gasps for air, and sobs, your beautiful, poignant, powerful poetry has helped me understand my life or more precisely, who I am. I just want you to know from my soul to yours that I believe you have been completely inspired by the masters. Your work is so important, and it instantly brought me insight, relief, laughter. I was talking out loud to myself: "uh hu, yep, you go girl, you got that right." Over and over.
The truth is, we both are very blessed, and we both can do so much to make a difference on the planet. And, like you and Jim, we intend to.
I am many things, and now I am clear, I am also the man who means to take care of (Name).
I love (Name) with all my heart, and being his caregiver is not only my choice but appeals to me, because learning about myself appeals to me, and frankly because I am not a quitter. Quitting is for wooseys. And I am in the game till the end.
Neither (Name) nor I understood this was our destiny, of course. Yet I believe we both chose this journey, I believe we are both learning lessons in this way of living that we meant to learn.
In any case, I am extremely grateful to you, for your truth, your love and your honesty. You just have NO idea how important your words are right now in my life. You have helped me cement the idea that (Name) will have no other than me to be his caregiver. Period. Right is right, love is love, and baby, I am very clear about the important love that is present between (Name) and I.
So, while we have never really "talked" much at all, I am indebted for your words. And please know that indeed, your work will change lives like mine forever.
From my heart,
|VanitaBooks donates all net profits from the sale of Air Mask to The Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis.
|How the artwork was created.