Words and Writing
by Abigail Somma
I Cried My Mother’s Tears (excerpt from forthcoming book. copyright 2019)
Throughout college and into early adulthood, I had the same boyfriend; a noble, decent and reliable guy. To anyone looking from the outside in, it would seem that the next logical step in our romance was a wedding. My mother surprised me one day in the latter part of our courtship by spontaneously announcing that she would not babysit my future children.
“Don’t expect me to watch your children,” she said unprompted.
“Ummm, I don’t have any children,” I replied with a fair degree of snark. One could imagine my mother presumed that fairly soon my guy and I would tie the knot and she’d be saddled with the role of chief babysitter, just as she was trying to free herself from the longstanding, persistent burdens of her own mothering journey. She must have been unaware that marriage was not on my mind; that I also had a deep yearning to be free and unattached.
Nearing ten years later, at a time when I was more ready for such a life stage, there were no grandchildren anywhere in sight, no prospects for any grandchildren, and neither of us felt all that great about it. My mother lamented not having the opportunity to build that bond with a child and feeling left out of conversations where her sisters and friends shared cute and quirky anecdotes. She told me she had missed out on what should have been the great joy of her 50s – grandparenting – something that provided meaning for most of her friends in the second half of their lives.
Many of my plays are focus on the spiritual or contemplative aspects of life. Beneath the Hush, a Whisper was inspired by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. After his mysterious death, a book of spiritual reflections called Markings (or Waymarks in the original Swedish) was found at Hammarskjold’s bedside. In this play, Hammarskjold is revered and admired from afar by a colleague who seeks to understand his reserve.
A ten minute play, Winter Retreat, has been performed in NYC, Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia. Subsequently, it has been expanded into a longer play called The Gratitude Journal.
Babies and Their Keepers
Three high school friends reunite after twenty years, brought together by the birth of new baby Casper. On the evening they meet, the story of Theresa Schmidt, a two year old victim of child abuse, is all over the news and has the entire community captivated. The very different life circumstances of these two babies – Casper, a newborn who was so desperately wanted, and Theresa, neglected and fighting for her life – unravel over the course of the evening.
Articles & Essays
When my twins were one and a half years old, I decided to become a meditation teacher. The initial intent wasn’t wholly to be a meditation teacher, but rather to get a much-needed break from my life. The way I explained it to my partner and co-parent was a little different. I told him this course would move my career in a direction that was more meaningful. It made sense for long-term planning. It was an investment in the future. The fact that it would also be a weekly sigh of relief didn’t seem worth mentioning.
“The concept of mindful diplomacy might be new to many, but the visionary United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was already thinking about it back in the 1950s. In 1957, Hammarskjold oversaw the creation of a meditation room at UN Headquarters “dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.” While the actual room now largely serves as a tourist attraction, the concept behind it is finally catching up with Hammarskjold’s vision as people increasingly turn inward for answers—and increasingly find scientific evidence validating that choice. Studies have shown that compassion and composure, the very traits that can lead to diplomatic success, are learnable skills. But the willingness to explore them and the humility to try something new are paramount. Mindful diplomacy may be the pathway to the progress we seek, and even to peace itself.”