The Long and Short Goodbyes

It's no the goodbyes that hurt, but the flashbacks that follow.I’ve missed blogging. It’s a useful vehicle for me to journal my experiences and share them with my friends–known and unknown. This year, though, has challenged my ability to maintain my emotional equilibrium. No time more so than this past week. We had planned for the worst part of the inevitable with my mother-in-law. Hubs got to spend four solid days with her in person while she was still lucid. We spoke to her the last time last weekend, before the pain became too intense for her to handle without morphine and phone conversations became impossible. We were going about our lives, helping with the rescue process for a pregnant stray dog in Gayla’s town. Then we got word that fellow writer and rescuer J.C. Montgomery died unexpectedly Wednesday morning. She was my first beta reader and writing cheerleader. I may have only known her via email, Twitter, and Facebook, but her support helped me become the person I am today and her loss without ever having been able to meet her in person was devastating.

Friday night, then, we got word that my mother-in-law’s suffering had come to an end. We were grateful that she had been spared the ravages of a drawn-out illness. The grace and presence she brought to her final weeks were a clinic for the family on gratitude and living in the moment that I can only aspire to emulate. We were able to send her off surrounded by love and the knowledge that she was appreciated for herself in spite of the flaws of humanity that had sometimes created tumult within the family.

But now we are dealing with the end of an era and a chasm of emotion that is rolling us both under. I remember that Sharon was the first to call me by my married name at our wedding–when my head whipped around, her words matched her impish grin, “just testing.” She worked for many years as a retail clerk and knew when all the sales were–but also how to apply coupons and employee discounts to the degree that she would show up periodically with the statement “I saw this and thought of you. It was only a couple dollars, so it’s my gift to you.” She learned all the best recipes for a full, Italian-style meal from her mother-in-law, and friends and family knew she could forever find another seat at the table and enough extra servings of food so everyone left with leftovers and a belly more full than they could have imagined possible. The hole she leaves behind will never be filled.

Interestingly, the Institute of Heartmath published an article this week about love as an advanced mode of intelligence that underlines the many positive aspects of having loved. And BarkPost reported on a study whose results indicate that dogs are awash in more oxytocin (the love hormone) than cats or humans.

So we still have each other, and the furbabies are all checking up on us regularly to remind us that the path through loss is to embrace the love we share. Our hearts are nonetheless having a hard time catching up with that knowledge, and our heads are fuzzy for lack of sleep.

I don’t know that I’ll be posting my normal list of goals this round–I’m already several weeks late–but I have to finish revisions on The Builders, finish Fire to Dragon, and write Dragon’s Pursuit by the end of the year. So I continue to plod forward despite all the heartache, and wish that the news would quit finding more ways of bruising that already wounded organ. I’ll be posting more regularly again, as well as pointing you to my ROW80 cohorts to encourage more mutual support and encouragement in my small sphere of web-based connections. And I’ll ask that each of you reach out to those you love most and remind them of why they are special to you. Life is short, and we never know which conversation will be our last. My goal as an artist is to leave a conversation that can continue past my physical existence, but that also depends on others carrying their half of the relationship, so please, love and enjoy one another.

3 Responses to “The Long and Short Goodbyes”

  1. shanjeniah says:

    The best words I know are Vulcan ones. “I grieve with you.” May there be increasing moments of peace in this time of mourning and readjusting.

  2. It’s hard to find the words at a time like this, but I do want to thank you for trusting us enough to share your heartache. May there be a measure of healing in the sharing. May comfort and peace wash over you.

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