Death Keeps Barging In

Snappy title, eh? It’s the title for the book I’m writing this month for NaNoWriMo, that yearly challenge to write a novel in 30 days that I find myself inextricably drawn to.

Although based on a dream I had five or more years ago, and although I had started writing the story back then, I now find that it has become my dear Debs’ story. Debs died on October 23rd, 2013. I was there until about 7:30 p.m.; she died at 10:50. Cancer took her — lung cancer. Of course, she had been a smoker almost all her life. “SHE DESERVED IT,” say so many. Not I. Oh, no; not I. If you’d wanted to meet an angel on earth, that had to be Debs. She deserved nothing bad, not in my books. As far as ciggies are concerned, I was there when she took her first puff! She was there when I took mine. She never quit. I did. But I don’t think that’s the whole story a-tall, a-tall.

My novel is, at the end of the day, about mindfulness. It’s about not only living in the moment, but embracing that moment, no matter how difficult. It’s about being one of the “Now People,” an idea propagated by my dear friend Suz, and adopted by me wholeheartedly. No more being the historian, no more being the time traveller; just live in the now. It’s about knowing that you’re on the right track, simply by doing what you’re already doing. If there were another way, you’d be doing it. I’m approaching the whole thing with a ton of humor, as we should with all “serious” things.

I sat with Debs as she lay dying, and I promised her that I would write a book with her hopefulness, her helpfulness, her kindness in it. I warned that it would also have my sense of humor. Debs loved my take on life, the odd way I looked (and still look) at existence. I told her I would make it ‘our story.’ It’s not a history; it’s not time travel. It’s the “now” as we knew it, and know it. Many, many people mistook us for sisters over the years. As she lay dying, I could see my face in hers, and I saw at last what others had already seen. I’m to tell the story for us both.

Shakespeare (and I’m not sure where he wrote this; I got this from the email of one of my students) said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” And so it is. Were it not for expectation, would we have any worries at all?

That said, I expect to finish, I hope I finish, this novel. Whether I do or not is immaterial; I just know I heal as I write. I have to do this.

I’d say, “Wish me luck,” but that would only jinx things.

Peace out,


2 thoughts on “Death Keeps Barging In”

  1. Thanks so much, Son. I think you learned this stuff –especially the not dwelling on history, and not pinning hopes on the future — long before I did. I’m just glad I’ve finally “gotten” it, too. Couldn’t have done it without you, and that’s the truth. Love you!

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