EDITING MEMOIR

Jessica is especially gifted in the art of memoir. She is the author of several memoirs, and she has also edited memoirs for other authors. Here are a few paragraph from her personal writing:

 Excerpt from “Captivated by the Light: Evolution of a Medium” (January 2021)

Clouds filled the sky, threatening rain, the day I finished reading Autobiography of a Yogi. I was sitting on the floor eating a salad as I read. The front door, a few feet away, had three small windows in a row at the top.

After reading the last page and closing the book, my mind burned with questions:

Was it true? Did Yogananda really have miraculous experiences and meet amazing saints and sages? Could an American girl like me find a guru and have similar experiences?

At the precise moment these thoughts formed in my mind, the clouds opened up and a Ray of Golden Light burst through one of the three small windows and struck me in the head.

Looking down at my salad, I was aware of the life force in each piece of lettuce, each sprout, each slice of avocado. The food, my body, the floor, the furniture—everything had become scintillating, crystalline, Golden Light. Nothing seemed solid. Everything in the room was made of vibrating molecules that had been formed into physical reality by some unseen hand.

Oh…the pure joy of it! I had been captivated by the Light—and would remain so for the rest of my life.

Excerpt from “Psychic Surgery and Faith Healing” (2008)

Mile after mile, the wind flows through the open windows bringing with it the smell of the dry fields, cow manure, cooking fires, and molasses. The dust of the road contains everything that has ever existed. This fine powder, carried around the world by breeze, squall, and tempest, might once have been my ancestor, the clouds of another planet, or even my own body. When Joseph stops the jeepney for a short break, I wander out into the fields, my sandaled feet kicking up some farmer’s forgotten furrow, and I feel as if I am touching the stars, the moon, the very heart of God. I meet myself in the fragmented earth.

Excerpt from “Love Is Ageless: Stories About Alzheimer’s Disease” (2003)

When my mother began to act strangely in the mid-1980s, I had never heard of Alzheimer’s disease. She was only in her 60s, and since she had always been a little mentally unbalanced, I just thought she was becoming more so. Like many of us, I managed the best I could, and not always very well.

Looking back on my relationship with her, I realize that after the anguish, the weeping, the rage, fear, denial, and utter confusion, I am left with simple and almost unbearably sweet memories:

Holding hands with her in the early twilight as we danced to Aretha Franklin on the radio, or laughing over our Christmas dinner of enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant, tomato sauce and cheese smeared all over everything, as if it was my own small child I entertained.

For it was in these few fleeting moments at the end of her life, and the end of our troubled and volatile relationship, that I learned what love is – that simple state of being with another for however brief a time you have together, no matter what the circumstances.

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