A month ago I lost my brother to terminal brain cancer, after 16 months battling the horror of 5 growing tumors and being paralyzed and unable to speak for the last 5-6 months of his life. He was confined to a hospital bed, unable to say goodbye to his family, especially his beautiful wife and three young sons which about broke my heart. The tumors finally took over his brain until he slipped away at last on December 12, his twin boy's 6th birthday. A week later, he would have been 44 years old on December 19th, the same day our own father died 39 years ago in an airplane crash when we were kids and, ironically, unbelievably, on Kendall's very own 5th birthday. So my baby brother who grew up without a father now leaves his own children without their Dad. History repeating in a surreal and mind-boggling way.
When my brother returned from his last overseas tour in the Navy, after serving for nearly 25 years, and much of the last 20 years in the Middle East, he couldn't wait to be home, to be with his kids, to finish raising the twins as well as his 12-year-old son. To be the Dad he never had - and that was taken away from him.
I've spent many days and weeks and months the past year railing against the inevitable, the sadness, the grief, the anger, and the whole unreality of this happening all over again to my family. I hide it well in public, but at home I often fall apart. I've spent hundreds of hours on the phone the last 16 months with my mother and sisters and other brothers talking and crying and weeping and trying to understand.
Life is not fair. It's just not. And even though I know there is a plan for each of us that comes from God our Heavenly Father, and a purpose to our lives and challenges and trials, it is often extremely difficult to accept it and not become angry or full of despair.
I'm grateful for the MANY emails and messages and cards from my online community. This is not something I've talked about very much at all - more so on Facebook, but even there not that much, out of respect for my sister-in-law who wore herself out trying to make life as normal as possible for the three boys while my brother spent most of this past year in the hospital or very sick at home.
I'm also very blessed to have understanding editors and an agent who let me cry on the phone with her. Editors who sent me numerous lovely and generous and supportive emails and cards and flowers, as well as pushing back deadlines when I was falling apart the last four months.
Thank you all so very much. It has meant a lot to me to know that people care and are thinking about me and have been praying for me - even strangers. We prayed for a miracle and we didn't get it, but I haven't lost my faith in an eternal plan of happiness, in our Savior, Jesus Christ who carries our burdens and loves us unconditionally, and helps us get through each day.Who knows our grief and weeps with us. Who has taken Kendall into his safe arms along with our father. That is the one thing that helps me get through this, is knowing they are together. They're catching up, probably talking a mile a minute, and Kendall is free from pain.
It's up to us to hold fast, to stay true and faithful, to not lose hope, to believe. To always believe.
Even though the world may be crumbling around us, there is always hope. There is always love. There is always our Heavenly Father and Savior who know what we need, and there is always family and friends to lift us up and catch us when we fall, as well as cry with us. Sometimes that's all we need.
So now I'm trying to get a grasp on a new year. To organize myself once again. To try to make my whirling life into something I can manage (ha!) to get my work done, keep up with a busy travel schedule, a revision/editorial schedule for two books, a drafting schedule for two new manuscripts (possibly three), a crazy school/conference/presentation schedule - and try to stay sane through it all. Um. Yeah. Right. Fingers crossed big time!
BUT: My writing has often been an escape for me when life wrings me out to dry. Hopefully I can still escape, still enjoy the writing, the stories only I can tell, the stories I need to tell, the stories I love.
So what are your writing and reading goals for this brand spankin' New Year of 2013?
I hope there are other crazies out there with me . . . :-)
With love to you all,