I’ve got a big week coming up – Christmas in Bear Ridge is coming out (I’m SO excited about this book), I’m almost done with my making things for this year – all but the food, most of which has to be done closer to last minute anyhow, and this week marks my first plus one. It’s a little weird, it’s a little morbid, and I know this but I can’t actually help the counting of it. I’ve been counting down for more than 20 years. On the 13th, I’ll be one day older than my mom ever got to be. I’ve got nearly 30 years to go before I get my second plus one – dad was 68.
I think the approaching marked day may have factored into the upcoming book too – there’s a lot about grief in Bear Ridge. Don’t worry – it’s still very much a Christmas story but for me, Christmas has always come with more than a heavy dose of nostalgia. Most of my favorite parts of Christmas come from my own childhood and my mom – chocolate oranges, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, butter rum coffee, and making things for the people who matter most. Hopefully, I’ve managed to pass on at least a few of those to my kids. I couldn’t have written a holiday story without touches of my parents – they’re there in the little things: the music, the food, the reluctance to believe in magic even when irrefutable evidence is right in your face, the ability to believe in magic despite all logic and reason.
I can’t get through this time of year without thinking about all the things my mom never got to do, never got to see, or how proud my dad would be, watching my oldest kid playing the villain in the school play and getting his first college acceptances or seeing my youngest get that hard fought for A in English this year or trying a freaking taquito (which sounds like a little thing but in our house it is HUGE – new food, new textures, and new flavors). Certain songs will come on and I’ll think of them, certain movies do the same. It’s never the same songs or movies – they were very rarely together in my life – but all the memories bring on the warm and fuzzies. Other times of the year, it feels more sad and sorrowful but this time of year, thinking about them makes me feel something else. I might cry a little and I probably look sad but it isn’t sad, it’s a warmer feeling than that, a less bleak or alone feeling. I might get a little taste of gray when the neverwills pop up and remind me that they are both gone now, but mostly, it’s just like wearing his jacket or her perfume: a little hug from the past that brings a smile rather than a sob.
This book may have done more for me in the writing of it than I knew when I was writing it. The thing about grief that no one tells you is that sometimes, even years later, you’ll find yourself going through most, if not all, of the stages again like it’s a new pain and not an old, scarred over book of memories.
I think I’m getting better at grief. Maybe I leveled up and didn’t realize it somewhere along the way. I’ve been sort of offline for a few days – here but not here and mostly just playing Words with Friends and lurking on Reddit. My dad has been gone for a year now, the day came and went with no fanfare, no whistles or bells. I don’t know what I expected I guess. I am a little surprised that I didn’t dream about him. Maybe the melatonin is giving me more vibrant dreams at the cost of the vibrant, meaningful dreams that tend to poke at me around special dates. I didn’t dream of my mother around her birthday this year either. Like I said, I think I leveled up and didn’t hear the sunburst sound or get to allocate my level points.
It feels like so much has happened in this first year that he missed. I wrote a book that he’ll never read. I don’t have the right words for how upsetting that is. I’m kind of glad he missed all the health crap – he would have tried to help more than he should have because he was like that. The oldest kid continually surprises people with his talents – acting and singing. I know Dad would have loved to see the boy be Edgar Allan Poe and completely kill it. The youngest kid has tried a bunch of new foods – many of which my Dad loved to cook (granted, he loved to cook pretty much everything but still) and has come so far. He’d have been so damned proud of them both. And me too, for that matter.
I find I’m standing up for myself a little bit more, putting up with nonsense a little less. I’m not sure if it’s because of said leveling up or if I just don’t have the energy to placate people or stroke their egos anymore. Plus, I have much less time now that I can type again. All the words belong to me now – still a bit slower than I’d like but I’m so happy with the volume and quality of them!
My phone is incredibly quiet now – no one calls to kibbutz with me or texts final jeopardy answers anymore. I miss him a lot. I did however finally go back to his favorite restaurant – there’s only so long I can go without Theo Yanni’s baklava cheesecake (which is even better than it sounds). Heck, maybe that’s when I did the leveling up. Somewhere between the spanikopita and the cheesecake, the horn must have trumpeted. I guess that means my points are all automatically assigned though. Which is a shame. I would really like to assign some points to learning freedom of movement.
Is coming to a close in a few short hours and I have failed. Miserably. But I did write. I’ve written more this month than I have all year. It’s different now than it was and I’m a little, ok, a lot, sad about that. I miss having someone pester me about what I’m working on or how much I got done. Even when I wanted to yell at him for being pestery, I was always glad my Dad cared enough to pester. He was my biggest support, my cheerleader, my first reader, my editor, and my fact checker. I know I have had friends tell me that I’m a fount of useless knowledge but if I’m a fount, he was a river. Writing isn’t the same now.
I’ll get back to normal eventually but apparently not this year.
Filed under Life, Writing
I am still plugging along on Hunter’s Hell but I’m not counting on winning NaNoWriMo this year. The ideas are there and solid but the fingers are not quite cooperating the way I’d like. I’m about 10,000 words behind I think, give or take, but I haven’t started today’s words yet either. Even if I don’t manage to win, I’ll have a complete draft well before Christmas and that’s really what matters.
I went to my rheumy last week. I’m not entirely sure I like him yet – I’m definitely not really comfortable yet but I don’t really expect to be this early yet either. Fortunately, we are starting the process to drop the prednisone so hopefully, that means I’ll go back to having next to no panic attacks or crying jags in the middle of Kroger. He also upped the other med – but mostly it just makes me sleepy and a little forgetful and that’s not terrible. I’m having some increased pain in my hands but I expected that also so I’m not terribly worried about that either. It is what it is. I’d like to be closer to normal but I can’t make things happen any faster so there’s no point in being defeatist about it.
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the states. I am not looking forward to it this year. This will be the first year without my Dad and if I think of my mom most around Christmas and Halloween, I think of my dad around Thanksgiving and New Years. I’m not saying I”m going to start eating sauerkraut because ew, but I’ll be thinking about him and all his superstitions anyway on the first of the year. On Thanksgiving, I’ll be missing his sweet potato flambe for sure. It was my favorite from the time I was ten. I’m really glad my husband doesn’t really get it – really glad – but there’s a part of me that just wants to be miserable and maudlin and be left alone. That’s not how it’s going to work but that’s what I want to do.
I’m finding NaNoWriMo is a bit difficult this year without my cheering section calling to see how many words I’ve gotten. I don’t think I realized how much I appreciated having someone who was invested in my successes and failures and progresses.
It’s weird knowing I’m not about to get a call to tell me, again, all about this day 38 years ago, including the bit where I was fortuitous enough to go ahead and be an emergency birth so insurance would cover it and my parents would get to go home with not just a baby but a full refund because they’d prepaid all the hospital fees for childbirth. No one is ever going to tell me that story again.
Honestly, I didn’t realize just how much I talked to my dad until he wasn’t there to talk to. I’ve had a very long time to deal with missing my mom. I’m only just getting the hang of missing him too.
Even with all that’s going on in the land of my father’s health, I’ve managed to get a massive chunk of edits done. My massive may not be your definition of massive but situationally, I’m getting through basically a chapter a day and that’s enough for me. Things are slowly getting better on that front but I really wish we could fast forward the next however many weeks it’s going to take him to get back on his feet.
There aren’t enough hours in the day or, honestly, motivation, for me to do Nanowrimo this year and that makes me sad. The book I’m editing right now started its life as a nanowrimo novel. The novels that are already out there to be read started their lives as nano novels too. I do have books that weren’t started then but it’s just so nice to write when everyone else is writing.
Being pulled in so many directions lately has taught me a few things. First: I need to sell more books so my husband can quit his job because he is so so so much better at the household stuff than I am. Second: anyone who can meet deadlines, produce multiple books and series, take care of family and household stuff and also hold a day job is my idol. Sometimes I daydream about the sheer volume I could produce if I had a househusband… if you want to see what that volume would be, you should buy/share/review my books. We’ll consider it an experiment. How many books could Sarah write in a year if writing was her only job? It probably wouldn’t be a whole lot more than I already do if only because something shiny would catch my eye and I’d get distracted but it is my favorite daydream any way.
Now to get started on my day. I’ve got a chapter to edit, a hospital and stepmom to call, and decorations to put away. I hate undecorating my house but it must be done. Later, if all goes well, I’m taking the kids over to say hello because I think my dad needs that a lot.