It seems like only yesterday. Cliché, yes, but true. Even before the 20th anniversary of this most tragic day, “twenty years” has weighed heavily on my mind.
When my father died in February, after his hard-fought battle with prostate cancer, I realized how quickly the 20+ years since his initial diagnosis had flown. I thought about who I was twenty years before, about how my life had changed.
My kids had grown up and now have children of their own.
I’d traveled around the world and been married and divorced. I’d become a published author. I’d lived in three different towns.
Still, the time between my dad’s prostate cancer pre-diagnosis of his death passed in a blink.
I began to think about how quickly the next 20 years would pass, which lead Steve and me to make some difficult decisions about how we wanted to “write” what could possibly…
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down? A book with chapters you hated to end, yet you couldn’t wait to turn the page to the next chapter?
In two days, with a final cross of a threshold and the tiny “click” as we close the front door to our home one last time, we will end a chapter that has been a book unto itself–full of all that makes days upon days upon years a life–the start of our marriage, the births of four grandchildren, the deaths of my parents, four family weddings, hundreds (if not thousands!) of walks to “our” beautiful neighborhood pond, and, oh yes, 15 months of isolation caused by an historic pandemic—a time when we were grateful to be “trapped” in the house with a spouse who didn’t make us feel “trapped.”
When our happy seven-year chapter comes to an end on July…
On Sunday, as Steve and I often do, we wrote on a writing prompt for ten minutes. The prompt was “Days Gone By.” With thoughts of my father still wrapped around my mind, here’s what I wrote:
Tomorrow will be one week since my father died. My father died. The words still feel like a hammer to me, an unreal, cold, hard hammer.
Days gone by. One might think I’d write about the last few days, the days since his death, but they are a blur, an ongoing feeling that a part of me missing, like my breath has been sucked into a place of never and forever.
The bigger, more meaningful days gone by are of my father’s final days, as he left us in increments, hour-by-hour. We prayed he’d let go to end his suffering, yet wanted him to cling to life, knowing that once he crossed over, he’d be gone from our lives forever, leaving the very gaping hole I’ve felt over the last week.
I remember saying to my siblings early on in the week, “He’s already gone.” We were no longer seeing definite signs of response, of his knowledge that we were there with him. Perhaps he squeezed our hand, or raised an eyebrow when a familiar song played, or we said something that might stimulate his thoughts—“Dad, Chuck is here now,” or “Andi is on the phone,” or “Aunt Carol wants to talk to you,” or “We love you very much, Dad.”
But was it just a coincidence that his eyebrow raised? An involuntary twitch that made him squeeze our hands? We clung to hope that he knew, but we simply don’t know.
I chose to believe that as his soul began to depart in his last few days, it hovered over all of us, even as it lingered inside his pain-filled body, as unsure it wanted to depart as we were of our preparedness to let him go, and he saw our tears and felt our love mixed with pain, and he knew.
For the last few days, I’ve continued to think about the dichotomy of holding on and letting go, and it brought to mind what 20/20 hindsight has taught me about parenthood:
The hardest part is finding the line between holding on and letting go.
In my father’s final days, we all experienced this tug-of-war, even my father.
On Monday morning, after giving my father his pain medication, my brother, sister and father’s wife, stepped out of his bedroom to have a quick breakfast in the dining room, only 20 feet away.
After my brother said a beautiful prayer before eating, my dad’s wife went back to check on him.
In those few short minutes, my father had passed away quietly.
I hadn’t yet made it to his house that morning, so when my brother called to tell me, I was heartbroken and filled with guilt that I hadn’t been there. When I learned the details of the morning, that my father had passed alone, I suddenly realized that was exactly how he wanted it.
We loved my father and didn’t want to let go. Most of all, we feared seeing him struggle at the end.
After months of fighting every minute to hold on to a life he loved, on the morning of February 1, 2021, in his few minutes of solitude, he crossed the line between holding on and letting go.
When I published my last couple of blog posts, I noticed that WordPress had made a HUGE change. For anyone who currently has a WordPress blog, I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about. But for those of you who don’t use WordPress, here’s what changed:
THE TEXT EDITOR!
Here’s a snapshot of the good, old “Classic Editor.” It was so similar to Word, I hardly had any learning curve at all when I first started blogging on WordPress. I took for granted that I hardly had to think about it as I used it.
According to WordPress, the Gutenberg Editor is new and improved. Oh. . . and more intuitive for WordPress users. Not.
Also, can anyone explain why, if it’s new and improved, they decided to call it “Gutenberg?” Here’s what it looks like. You tell me if it looks intuitive.
Recently, after a couple of Zoom conversations with my friend, Kathleen Rodgers, I thought it might be fun to record conversations with author friends about their thoughts on writing and their recent work or novels. (SEE OUR “CHAT” BELOW!)
After weeks of thinking about it and trying to find a good time, I finally jumped in and interviewed Kathy about her latest novel, The Flying Cutterbucks.
The conversation was intended to be just that–a conversation, and not an overly formatted interview. This made it both exciting and scary. Though I did have a couple of questions in mind to ask, Kathy didn’t have a heads up about what I would be asking. I think you’ll see in the video, it really was spontaneous–especially by the fact I didn’t even have a title for the “episode” yet. But we had fun, and hopefully, viewers will learn a little bit…
What makes you love a book? For me, it’s the author’s ability to draw me into the character. If I can sink into a character’s mind and see the world through her eyes, feel her joys, sorrows, anger, passion, love or lust, I love the book.
My friend Linda Apple and I sometimes debate whether it’s called point of view or perspective. But, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. What’s important is to understand the importance of the author’s ability to help the reader experience the story through a character–to get the reader to empathize with the character.
My own writing journey began with writing in journals in my early teens. In the very secret and very private writings of those journals, I tried to get someone to see the world through my eyes, even if that “someone” was only my diary.
“Liminal” is a derivation of the Latin word limens, which translated, means threshold. The Coronavirus has brought us to one of most visible thresholds I can recall in my life.
There are some wonderful liminal spaces, like the moments before the birth of a child, or before speaking the words, “I do.” Crossing these thresholds changes our lives forever, some in ways known, many in ways unknown. But, even with the unknowns, it seems easier to accept these happy liminal spaces as a fact of life.
There have been terrible liminal moments, too, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks that changed many of our lives forever. Even on a personal level, liminal spaces follow divorce, or even an empty nest. What comes next?
When I’ve talk to friends and family, I’ve learned that much of the stress during this time is due to the uncertainty of what’s next. The past…
What are you doing with your time while at home during this pandemic? Working? Perusing social media? Watching the news? Reading? Binge-watching favorite series and movies?
Since I’m not set up to work from home, I’m doing a little of everything else. But, I want to make the most of this time, so I’m also working on:
Getting back to my writing
Learning to play the piano
Familiarizing myself with graphics programs
Today, I started a project I’ve been thinking about for some time–writing very short stories for my grandchildren. These are not stories I intend to sell, they’re simply to give to my grandkids, and it will hopefully inspire a love of reading and writing.
This is something all writers can do while “stuck” at home!
It began as an idea to hand-write letters to them. Few people send letters anymore, and though Tommy, Allie and Jack may…
I didn’t title this post to be clever or funny. After all, there are far greater worries today than running out of toilet paper. But it does seem to provide one of many visual representations of where we find ourselves today.
These are interesting and troubling times and so, for the following reasons, I’m going to post every once in awhile about my thoughts during these times:
I want to document my thoughts about this time in our history. Who knows? My grandkids may be interested someday.
A blog is a good forum for us to share ideas about how to “get through” this time.
Here’s an unfiltered outflow of what I’m thinking today:
I don’t get how people think things are being overblown. Do they not see what’s happened in S. Korea, Italy, Spain, Iran, etc.? Do they think America is so “great” it can’t happen here? Let me just say, a virus is a great equalizer. We are no better than any other country this virus has invaded.
In fact, I’d say the way this pandemic has been handled by our federal government has been disorganized and full of disinformation. Among 8 affected countries around the world, the United States has done the least number of COVID-19 tests per million people. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH STILL NOT HAVING ENOUGH TEST KITS?
There’s a fine line between panicking and preparing, and it is a moving target. But there’s no doubt unnecessary panic is causing the rush to buy cleaning supplies, groceries and even toilet paper.
Never in my life have I hesitated to go to work while suffering with a minor cold. I’m actually debating it today. (Is it irresponsible to go to work? Or is it a paranoid over-reaction to stay at home?)
There must be millions of people like me all over the country. People who are either dealing with a minor cold, or even allergies and who are unsure of whether to stay home or go to work. It’s a “social distance” issue vs. a financial issue. A panic vs. preparedness issue. Where’s the line?
Which leads me to my question of why more companies aren’t being pro-active in establishing the means for employees to work from home.
I’ll end here for now. I have many other thoughts, but I’ll save them for another post. Until then, stay well, be patient, focus on gratitude.
P.S. – We all could use some good news, so at the end of each of my posts on Coronavirus, I’ll share a positive news story: