The Juxtaposition between Mourning and Celebration

So yesterday was my co-worker’s funeral. Today was Family Fun Night at my son’s school.

It was surreal, seeing so many people dressed up. Ours is a laid-back office, so seeing dresses and suits with ties was distressing. Most of the office is still in shock. It would’ve made a difference if our co-worker died from an accident, or had a heart attack, or died of natural causes, or got shot by an assailant.

What happens when the assailant is yourself?

The only time I dealt with suicide was back in high school, when a guy from my Spanish class killed himself. I didn’t know him all that well–he pretty much kept to himself. When we heard what happened, I remember feeling sad, but not really broken up over it.

But this is different. We knew this guy. We saw him all the time. He took my hubby and me out to dinner. We saw them at church last week. He walked by my desk every single day. I would say “Hi,” and he always had a smile for me.

It makes what he did last Tuesday so out of whack, many of us still have trouble believing it.

I’ve been trying to sort it out in my head and on paper. Mainly there’s sadness, but there’s also anger too. Why didn’t he tell anyone he was in distress? Was there anything we could have done? Could have said? Would he even listen, or was he so far gone that nothing would have reached him? He was always cool, always calm, always collected. Nothing seemed to faze him.

I don’t get it.

Today, we went to Daniel’s school for their annual Family Fun Night. Daniel took me to his schoolroom and show me the picture he drew, the cubicle where he hangs his jacket. We ate soup and salad, watched a Celtic band. Daniel threw a tantrum because he didn’t want to wear his crocs. Later, he jumped in the bouncy house for about five minutes, then came out and put his crocs on, saying, “Okay, I’m done.”

And all throughout the evening, the thought kept running through my mind: He will never experience fun with his family again. He won’t get to see his kids laugh or cry. He won’t be there to dry their tears or laugh at a joke with them. I can’t stop thinking of it. No matter how hard I try.

On Saturday, I went to the farm. I pulled beets out of the crumbling dirt, roots and bugs dangling down. I washed them in ice-cold water, plunging my hands in, feeling their knobbly hardness, marveling at the crimson red of the skins, the striped pink of the stems. Later on, I washed cherry tomatoes, my fingers reaching through the clear water, searching for the smooth orbs. I felt them round and fleshy in my hands: scarlet, tangerine, orange-yellow, grass green. I popped one into my mouth, felt its warmth flood my cheeks with pulp and seed.

Each following day that comes, we will step a little further away from his death. The pain will soften, the sorrow lessens, and we will start remembering more of what he was rather than how he ended. I can feel it happening now, each minute that passes. In the meantime, I’m going to hug my son a little more, hold my hubby a little tighter. I’m going to try to experience life just a little more before mundanity makes me forget.

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“Daughters of Sarah” up at Third Order Magazine!

Yeehaw! A new story!

I’m proud of this one because this was the first short story I worked on when I started writing again after Daniel was born. Actually, ‘short’ is pretty subjective. This one’s a bit on the long side.

I got the idea for this story back when I was at Roosevelt University. One of the elective classes I took was on Women in the Bible (at a college, of all places). I did a paper on Japheth daughter, the young woman who became a sacrifice just because she was the first one to run out to meet her father. The professor was skeptical that she was actually sacrificed–chances are, she went to the Temple to serve out the rest of her life–but I was always intrigued by the part where she asks to go with her friends to grieve, and that it became a tradition for Israelite girls to go ‘weep’ for this poor unfortunate maiden.

It took many years for me to sit down and flesh the story out to what it is now. Enjoy!

http://www.thirdorder.org/winter08/daugwana.html

31 Days Hath Sucktober…

Okay, it’s official. October is hearby renamed as “Sucktober”. I’m coining this new word right now. If it ever takes off, you’ve heard it here first at the Cafe.

October has really sucked this year. I’m not going to get into specifics because I didn’t plan for this blog to be a place to moan and gripe about my life. I don’t want the stuff that’s happening to linger in the confines of the Internet for a good long time. I can say that on the whole, things are good. Hubby is fine, boy is fine. We’re all somewhat healthy. It’s just that October has not been good to us…or to our friends, for that matter. October

What has been good in all this is that we’ve been praying a lot. Amazing how hard times can bring us closer to the Lord. While things fall apart around us, God is still holding us up. I’ve seen it not just the little things that’s been happening, but in the general peace that’s been surrounding me as so much chaos takes place around me. That’s been nice. It’s nice

Another thing that’s been good is that my writing hasn’t faltered. Workwise on Willow, I’m now outlining the main plot, and it’s been cool to see things coming together as far as the storyline goes. I’ve also been sketching out the subplots a bit more, and I can see things coming together nicely. Again, I’m being vague…but I’m learning that what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet, and that includes drafts of books and whatnot. So I guess you’ll just have to wait until the book comes out.

Wow, this is probably the vaguest post I’ve ever written. I think I’m going to just head to bed.

Let’s Get Started: Ready, Steady, GO!

Perhaps you’ve been wondering why this blog has been unusually quiet these past couple of days. Well, I’ve been in a bit of a tizzy as of late. You see, my husband, has been offered a full-time job, with benefits.

Up until now, he’s been contracting, which has been good, but with no benefits…well…It’s amazing how God protected and cared for us. When I had Daniel and decided to stay home, God provided the means to do that. We never went hungry, never lost our housing, never got seriously ill. Always paid our bills. But still, there were many times when I wondered if I should shelve the dream of becoming a writer and go back to work full-time.

I know, I know. If I was a “true” writer, I’d find a way to make it happen: write during lunch hours, in the early morning, blah, blah, blickety blah. But come on. You know and I know that for me, it wouldn’t work. I worked full-time for six years and barely put any words down on paper. I loved my job so much that I threw all my creative work into it. My regular writing suffered because of it–I don’t think I even journaled during those years.

Now, it could be that if I did have to go back to work, I’d find a way now that the urge to write flows through my veins. Perhaps I would’ve gotten a crummy job, one I couldn’t wait to find quiet moments to whip out paper and pen and scribble furiously. But that wouldn’t be fair to my employers. What if we decided to have another child? I would only work for a little while, then have to come back home again. And then there’s the family aspect, which…hold on, I’m now venturing into the whining zone. The point is, there are tons of mother writers out there who work full-time, take care of their families, and still write best-selling novels. I admire them. I envy them. I just don’t think I can be like them.

That’s why I’d been praying and seeking God’s will in writing. Many, many times I told him, “Look, if you want me to do this, full-time, you gotta give my hubby something better in the job market.” And for four years, I prayed that prayer, not hearing much of anything except a vague Don’t worry. Just keep writing. God will take care of things…

And then, a job opportunity for my hubby came. He applied for it. They offered him the position on Friday. Yes, that Friday the 13th….Only one other time has something happened on an auspicious day: that was when Daniel was born on Mother’s Day. Pretty surprising for all of us, but when you consider that before Daniel, I had two miscarriages…Well, you can see why I sometimes feel that God has a wonderful sense of humor.

But this also came just on the heels when I realized that if I’m to get serious about writing Willow, then I need to dedicate more time to it. When my hubby got the position, we talked about a lot of things, and out of the blue, he said, “We can even start thinking about daycare for Daniel next year. Question is, what do you want to do with your time? Did you want to think about working again, or did you want to focus on Willow?”

Uhhhhhh…..

It feels weird. To suddenly have the freedom, the permission to write…to actually work on what I feel God has called me to…frankly, it’s terrifying…

But that’s why I signed up for Nano. To see if I could do this. It’s why I started this blog. To see if I can do this. Yes, it’s going to be frustrating and stressful, and rejection letters will pile up, and there’ll be days when I sit down and what spill from my fingertips should be dunked into the toilet along with Daniel’s poop, and if we do have another child, I’ll have to juggle her (or him…God’s still got that sense of humor going…) while writing, and Daniel will most probably drive me crazy trying to show me what he learned in daycare, and the dishes will pile up and my hubby will need his pants ironed, and I’ll open my email to find another rejection letter…

And something tells me I’m going to be loving every minute of it.

So if you don’t mind, I need to quit this blog and start writing, because when God gives you permission to do something, you better hit the ground running…