The Start of the Season

Last Saturday, we had inches of snow. Tomorrow, we will start planting our big vegetable garden. We have already planted several rows of early greens, peas, beets and radishes, but tomorrow, the real fun begins.

Tomorrow, we will plant (finally!) our perennial herb garden. Then a flower garden. Then, hopefully start our biggest vegetable garden. If I get organized, I will share photos.

Why do we do this? Because it brings us joy and peace. Because we produce our own food, knowing where it came from.  It is one of the things that means the most to us as a family, and I can’t wait for it to really start tomorrow.

Transitions in Life and New Goals

Back in 2013, I couldn’t even think (really) of being a published author. Yes, I dreamed of it for years, but with the same sort of yearning that most young women hope to someday have a unicorn as a pet.

After Sam’s death, I made a commitment to becoming a published author. I had queried agents and publishers for years, but I finally got serious. I hired an editor. I hired someone to critique my query letters. Now, to be clear, I had great editors already. I had friends with degrees in English or literature, who edited my work. They did a great job, but they did it with love. To a certain degree, you need brutal people as editors. To be clear, I love my paid editors. They now are my dear friends, but they are just as brutal now as they were in the beginning. They were cutting and clear in their editing. They kicked my butt around the block. I cried. I swore. I threw manuscripts out in the trash. I shredded some. And they made me a better writer.

My first publishing contract made me cry with joy, excitement and grief. Sam had believed in me so deeply, it broke my heart anew that he wasn’t there dancing around with me in the living room. But, with the hindsight of the passing years, I know I would never have done the serious work of hiring editors if Sam had lived. It was losing him that drove me to do what I needed to do to fulfill his belief in me.

Obviously, years have passed. I now have published four novels and a memoir. As you know, I have chosen the traditional route for publishing because that was what I needed to do for my own heart and soul.  I also write professionally as a paid ghostwriter and freelance writer. I have accomplished what Sam knew I could, and it makes me happy.

Yesterday, someone asked me about my writing plans now. I realized that the joy of achieving your goal means that you can set new goals. Yes, I want to continue to publish under my own name and my pen name, as well as continue to write for others.  Now it is time to set a new writing goal for myself.

Hmm… What will that be?


The Meaning of May

May 2019 started off so well. Along with a dear friend, I’d been part of my first literary panel, the weather was incredible, and it was time to start planting the garden.

Then May 7th arrived.

As I have written before, my life was divided into two clear parts as of October 9, 2013.  The first part of my life was everything up to that date, then Sam died. And I thought that date would be the big dividing line.

Then May 7th, 2019 arrived.

We went to an appointment in Burlington, knowing that something was wrong with my beloved husband, but we had no idea of how serious it was. On that day, the doctor coldly announced that he had ALS. Then he said that the average life expectancy is 6 months to a couple of years. The words were cold. The delivery was cold. It was pure and simple a message of “go home, get your affairs in order, and there is nothing that can be done.”

Now, I realize now, as I did then, that there was nothing that can be done to change the diagnosis. Nothing to change the outcome. There is no cure. But the delivery? It was cold, impersonal, and cruel. There is a huge difference between giving a realistic view, and being cold and cruel… No one should be given such a diagnosis in such a manner.

How did we react to that news? In shock, we got in the car and started to drive home. We had to pull off in a parking lot so we could fall apart. Over that next few days we did that a lot. We cried. We yelled. We swore. We figured out how to tell our parents and children. We got our “stuff” in order. We had those god-awful conversations that no one ever wants to have.

Then we found ourselves again. We decided knowingly and openly that we would live every moment to the fullest. We would not keep asking “why us,” and instead enjoy how fortunate we are. We have love surrounding us. We have incredible friends and family. We live in a place we love. We would do things we’d always wanted to do, and we would not take a single moment for granted. We did our research, we sought out both traditional and non-traditional treatments, and we have re-found (is that a word?) our gratitude.

It’s almost a year later. On the night of May 7th, 2019, I felt that my heart had been broken a second time. On this May 7th, I will instead celebrate how incredibly fortunate we are, and give thanks for every moment we have had in this last year.