Saturday, June 9, 2012

Love After Death

My parents bought their home on East Fifth Street in Arlington before I joined their family. It’s the only family home, other than the one I created with my husband, I’ve ever known. I lived there for eighteen years—until I went away to college. My dad still lives there. More than twenty years ago my husband and I moved to Rancho, so even though I have lived in Rancho longer than I lived in Arlington, almost all of my nightly dreams take place in at my dad’s house.

Two weeks ago my son, Nathan—the whiz kid who helped me create Eclectic Books—married Shirley Tyler in Logan, Utah. My healthy and robust ninety-one year old dad and my memory impaired stepmother drove from Arlington, Washington to Salt Lake City to attend the wedding. 882 miles—1164 miles round trip. My dad has been in and out of the hospital ever since.

The sad, but undeniable truth is my dad, while mentally healthy, can no longer physically take care of my memory impaired stepmother. She’s a pistol and a handful for even a healthy person. You can get mad at her, scold her and five minutes later she’s forgotten the incident. She doesn’t have the sense of a puppy.

I promised heaven and told my husband that IF my income (selling books) exceeds his and IF my dad is still alive next year after my girls graduate from high school (because even though I love my dad, I’d never steal my girl’s senior year of high school, not to mention that between the two combined families my parents have eleven children who can care for them—it’s not just me, thank heavens) that we will move to Washington. We can rent out our house in Rancho, buy a tiny house on a lake in Washington, fix it up and I can write books and make dinner for my parents every night. My husband laughed (he has a very nice income) and I’m sure heaven did to. But the thought has been lodged in my head for my head for the last few days.

I went to the store yesterday and stopped and chatted with my neighbor, Jenny, and thought—if I went to the store in Arlington, Jenny won’t be there. Last night we went to dinner at a new waffle place in town and I saw my writing partner, Melanie, the Taylor family and Beth and Dave Green. At the temple I spoke with the Lisa, Andre, Kelly, Bobby, Brandon, Linda, Mike, Lynette, Diane and Ed. We met friends at the restaurant that night. This morning on Facebook I saw I had a message from Rancho’s mayor—I wonder if I even know the mayor of Arlington. Probably not.

Today I’m flying to Washington. To a place I’ve always considered home. And I realize I’m lucky I have two homes to love. And I still have my parents. I am lucky in love. And if I can sell enough books to make a move to Arlington financially feasible—well, that won’t be luck. That will be heaven laughing at me.

In my book A Ghost of a Second Chance, Laine Colllins, recently separated from her husband, is confronted by her grandmother’s ghost, Madeleine, who has come to escort Laine’s recently deceased grandfather, Sid, to his next life. The problem? The body lying in Sid’s casket is not Sid and Madeleine needs Laine’s help to find him. As Laine and Madeleine search churches and mortuaries for the missing Sid, Laine is forced to face the question—can love live even after it has died? (Right now I'm participating in a Booklover's Buffet where all the books, including A Ghost of a Second Chance, are only .99 cents

Thirty-five years ago I lost my mother. I worry that I’m about to lose my father. But just like Arlington has changed from the tiny, sleepy dairy farming community with a population of 5,000 to a bedroom community of Seattle and Rancho—good heavens, when we moved to Rancho we had coyotes roaming the streets and the lake and library where figments of our imaginations. People and places change—but love stays. Even after death. Henry Van Dyke said it best.

“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

And just like today I’ll get on a plane and my family won’t see me for awhile, someday I’ll close my eyes forever and my family won’t see me for awhile. But that doesn’t mean I’ll love them any less. It just means they won’t see me, the me that makes my body me—because they could preserve my body—shudder—but my body is not me, for a short (compared to eternity) time.

This is what I believe about love and death. What do you believe?

1 comment:

  1. I don't even know who the mayor of Rancho is. And had you gone to Bruxie in the afternoon instead of night, you would have seen me there. A house by a lake in Washington sounds wonderful, but I hope you don't move.