Real life and death concerns have been weighing down my writing for awhile now. Last week, we thought my dog was dying. You can read about that here. And then the cat disappeared. We worked really hard to keep one pet alive only to have the other vanish. Today, I took Grendel (the dog) in to the vet to have her stitches removed. The vet and her assistant were both really surprised to find Grendel had survived and was even perky.
Yesterday, my mother-in-law died. She had suffered a series of small strokes over the past few months and then on Monday another struck, leaving her partially paralyzed and unresponsive. She was 89. Because it was time, it wasn't tragic, but it is sad. And I find myself thinking of all the wonderful weekends and holidays we spent at my in-law's home. Last night, in her honor, we watched old home movies where my husband was young, skinny, and had shoulder length hair, and my in-laws were younger than either my husband and I are now. We watched the family dog tease the cat. Life hasn't changed so very much, except that now, of course, both of my in-laws are gone, as is my mom, and all of my aunts and uncles. And my cat.
In the midst of this, my nonsmoking niece who is only 36 years-old and has a beautiful family with three young children has been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. You can donate to Kira here.
Tonight, I'm going to dinner with friends. One of them recently lost a son in a tragic car accident. He was on his way to a family wedding when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. I can hardly think about my friend without getting teary-eyed. I'm not sure how I can sit with her and eat a salad with composure.
Life isn't fair. Fairs, I've been told, are for horses, pigs, and pie-eaters. And real life is not an apple pie. It's hard. As my 95 year-old dad likes to say, growing old isn't for sissies. The longer we live, the more we have to watch our loved-ones leave us.
And in the wake of all these deaths and brushes with death, it's been hard to focus on my writing. There are a hundred and one decisions to be made. Travel plans to be arranged. Dog sitters. An estate to be settled. Death brings life more sharply into focus and the fictitious world loses it's pull.
I've told myself that I have three weeks to finish Menagerie. But nothing tragic will happen if I don't meet that deadline. In fact, the word deadline has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It's hard to believe a writing deadline has any real significance at all.