So today marks two years since my father’s passing. This whole month has taken me down a memory lane filled with the most lasting painful memories I’ve ever made.
Knowing that, whenever I visited my father I was seeing him move inevitably closer to that final goodbye, knowing that every time I heard his weakening voice I needed to capture that precious sound before it was gone forever.
One Saturday afternoon, soon after his diagnosis, he called me. Postpartum and overwhelmed, I had just snapped up my laptop and run out of the house near tears after telling my husband I’d be back.
Ever reasonable and definitely not averse to my getting out of the house alone, K’s only questions were where I was going (the nearest Starbucks), and when I expected to return (I wasn’t sure). It turned out to be about 3 hours, which I spent binge-watching “Arrow” on Netflix with a gigantic cup of tea.
My father’s call arrived just as I parked the car. So I answered, and I’m sure he could tell I was upset, because after greeting me and ascertaining where I was and why I was there, his first question was, “Do you have time to talk?” And my heartfelt answer was, “For you, always.”
As the year comes to
a close, it invites reflection. What did I accomplish? What do I regret? How
did I grow?
Accomplishments and Growth
In comparison to
2017, I can honestly say that I’ve been in a much better mental place. I still
miss my dad–and I always will–but time and new experiences have offered their
Writing, both journaling and the three novels I’ve been readying for release,
Drawing, whether little doodles or letter art or sitting down with my sketchpad,
Language learning, because Duolingo is awesome (Spanish and Hindi for now)
Reading, especially to the munchkins but also some great series I’ve discovered,
Gratitude practice, which I can’t recommend highly enough, and
Exercising, from HIIT to yoga, barre to Zumba,
have all helped changed my perspective, keep me busy, and bring different kinds
of joy. An analogy that really resonated with me was that grief or loss is like
a bubble of a fixed size in the ever-expanding bowl of our life experience. As
additional bubbles fill the bowl, the loss bubble doesn’t get smaller, but its
proportion in comparison to our life experiences starts to shrink. I think we
also get used to the new normal of not being able to share the new experiences
of life with our lost loved one. Regardless, it still sucks and the strangest
moments remind me of my dad, but I don’t want to dissolve into a puddle of
helpless tears at every juncture.
The kids are also
more independent and conversant, so it’s fun to see the thoughts coming out of
their heads and to play games with them that I genuinely enjoy too. Their
personalities are so different, and their capacity to learn and to help and to
love brings such satisfaction to my lifelong wish to be a mother. Whether
cooking with T or folding laundry with D, we find ways to work together
productively and teach each other life skills. T’s love for science, D’s for
cuddles, and both of theirs for having someone lavish attention on them warms
Growth as a writer?
Not that you’ll notice since I haven’t released anything, but my writing
provides better description and pacing than before. I’m conscious of active
word choices and I’ve developed a draft-edit-complete method that really works
for me. It helped me speed through Book 2 and is going to help me wrap up Book
3 at pace.
Regrets for 2018?
Can one have regrets
without having regrets? Because while there are things I would like to have
finished (ahem, release Sea Dreams), I do know that the delay will benefit the
book’s quality. Finding time to finish the first draft of Book 3, Sea Treasures,
has been a struggle despite having taken time off for medical stuff.
After surgery in
mid-November to remove what turned out to be a benign liver cyst, it took
rather longer than I anticipated to get back on my feet. Work stuff took
priority, and then we had family travel plans thereafter. I’ve really tried to
be present for the time I spend with the family, to make the best memories I
can, so I can’t regret that choice. All of these activities translated to
limited writing time in the last quarter of the year, inevitably delaying the
release of Book 1.
The delays in the
writing also paid off: I found more beta readers who were willing to share
their feedback, and the slow pace of my draft have resulted in some quality
writing that should (hopefully) require less editing time. I’ve also updated
some things in Book 1 to make more sense and add consistency to the series.
I’ll be discussing
resolutions for 2019 in my next post, but obviously the first three books of
Sea Deception will be released in 2019.