Monday, May 20, 2019

The Calm Before the Chaos

Compared to the quiet, steady, predictable pace of my weeks this week will be controlled and welcome chaos. I will be able to begin the days with my journal writing breakfast time but will need to quickly get myself in gear to rise to the expected tasks of each day. Those tasks are pleasant and welcome and planned . They have been on lists for months as I got myself prepared and did the preparations needed to bring them about. I booked the flight that will bring Meg home for her mother's eighth book launch.I bought a dress, ordered a cake ,we booked the Legion and did whatever else needed done. Meg made the comment the other night how launch day is all about me. She might be correct on that account but a part of me would rather retreat and stay home alone knitting dish cloths and choosing shows to watch on the PVR. But I write books. I sit for long, quiet hours crafting stories and then I send them to my publisher and then my editor and I work at perfecting them and then the process results in a book. I then have to launch or send that book out into the world.So I take the books to a local venue where I am supported by friends and family.I have many wonderful memories of my previous launch nights. Driving into the farmer's market parking lot and seeing the many cars already parked there. Former students milling about celebrating the work their teacher shared with them over the years. Friends and family members lovingly introducing me.Nervousness,laughter tears. Milk being left in the car defeating the purpose of all my careful planning. Glenda's gift of chocolate chip cookies. Hugs and tears. Emma and Lilah tending to the technical details of the musical interludes .Chunky babies and curly haired toddlers in their mother's arms. Getting to see Headliner for the first time when I entered the Legion already filling with people. Calvin and Robbie providing music and an atmosphere that was perfect. Butter tarts and cake, ice cream,sprinkles and toppings.Graduations, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries sharing the week with the book launch.Busy , hectic wonderful moments of exhaustion and second guessing.So today I will check my lists and make new ones. I will choose my outfit, I will clean and wash bedding. I will read aloud the selections I have chosen. I will write a bit enjoying the real reason I put myself through this. I will let this day unfold and get myself ready for the week ahead. This launch as some before will be followed by another writing event that will require me to step up and participate. In 2015 I left shortly after for the week long TD BOOK tour in Ontario. One year I went on a Hackmatack tour to Nova Scotia.Last year I traveled to Halifax to attend the Atlantic Book awards as The Memory Chair was shortlisted for the Ann Connor Brimer. WFNB's Word Spring event takes place around book launch time. This year WordSpring takes place the day after the launch , and on Saturday night I have the honor of attending the NB Book Awards Gala with Headliner shortlisted for the Mrs. Dunster Fiction prize. Controlled and welcome chaos forcing me to leave the quiet comfort of my home and my happy solitude.The moments that seem to be all about me are so far from being all about me. They are about the people I love and who love me, the friends who carry me, the support of my publisher and editor ,the healing gifts of my wood road and of the vast sky above me, the sleepy dogs sprawled out on my office floor whose gentle breathing reminds me to breath and treasure each day.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

This is Our Daughter

My heart is bursting on this beautiful sunny Sunday/Mother's Day.My mind is full too and I will attempt to unload some of the heartfelt thoughts percolating in my brain. First thing I saw out the window this morning when I came downstairs to put the coffee on was one of our cows laboring to give birth in the pasture. She appeared to be flailing and struggling while the entire herd circled around her. The two young calves frolicked nearby sometimes getting too close and being 'spoken to' by one of the elders.It was a frightening, exciting scene.But it unfolded in a natural and beautiful manner. Mama got to her feet and with a final push the calf was delivered. The aunts and father continued to circle giving support.Mama licked baby calf and forced it to its wobbly feet. Now a few hours later the calf suckles and frolics near Mama's side. Every now and then the two big cousins get too rambunctious and too close for Mama's liking and she puts the run to them. Amazing and so like human motherhood and family.Burton and I just returned from the Legion where we had brunch with Chapin, Brianne and the kids. My heart rejoices in the miracle of that family. The 'cousin family' Paige named them last summer and the name stuck. The Young White's was how Chapin signed my Mother's Day card. Motherhood, family: the wonderful plan to nurture children. I had Dad to the cardiologist on Thursday and he introduced me to the doctor as 'Our daughter.' It warmed my heart . Even though one half of the our is now missing and I celebrate this first Mother's Day without my mother my Dad's words honor her part in who I am. My heart is full and I see this day as an opportunity to just allow the wonder of motherhood to surround me. I acknowledge the fact it is the twentieth year of missing my oldest son. I pray for the four mothers in Miramichi who are feeling that loss today on their first Mother's Day after their sons and daughter's deaths. I pray for motherless children, fathers who must carry on . I give thanks for the privilege I was given to mother four children ,and continue to hold my children in my heart , to be grandmother to five children and Nanny Sue to four others,to be like a loving mother in my classroom for 29 years and to now write books with stories of mothers, of families, of imperfection and of love.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Rhythm of Our Days

Rhythm as a musical term refers to movement, repetition of a beat,a pattern produced by the combination of accent,metre and tempo. The rhythm of our lives, of our day to day , week to week and season to season often takes on a musical quality . Consider the variety of rhythms in the many types of music. The slow waltz, the disco beat, the frenzied staccato, a country ballad and on and on. I just returned from a nice slow and steady paced walk with my 89 year old Dad. We sat for awhile on a bench by our brook and talked some but also took in the sounds of the babbling brook and the rustling leaves. Two busy black dogs ran in and out of the water retrieving sticks. I have thought a lot lately about the stages of our lives. I clearly recall the busy life of a mother and full time teacher raising four children. Many days were like a whirlwind and one extra thing thrown in could topple the equilibrium. It often seemed that things came all at once. The more you were juggling the more got thrown your way. Some days the music seemed too loud, too crazy , too ear splitting and mind bending. It seemed if one more thing came at you the rhythm of your carefully orchestrated day would implode. I have fewer of those days at this stage of my life. Safe to say I seldom deviate from the well established predictable cadence of my days. I treasure this predictability and use days like this one to build up the strength needed for the more demanding days. I am watching my Dad who is unable to do many of the things that gave meaning to his days and feel his sorrow and frustration. I watch my children caught up in those frenzied days of working and raising kids and facing life's challenges. I sometimes want things to slow down for them , the music to get calmer. I want to give support , offer wisdom and solutions to those younger and those older. I do know stuff and have some experience and lessons to share. I have compassion and understanding and I will continue to give what I can . The truth of it is though that each must find their own way to adapt to their current situation.The tools that will empower them come from within and from embracing the rhythm of the days they find themselves living. That's all I've got today and I have to get supper on the table for my father who likes the steady rhythm of predictable mealtimes.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

You'll Know When you Get There

Last night I indulged myself in a movie marathon, watching four movies in a row. Burton had gone to Moncton for a dart party and I had the luxury of time. That is not to say I could not watch non stop TV with Burton at home but there is something about being able to watch whatever you please in private and allow your emotions to run untethered. The first movie I chose was Life Itself. I had heard it mentioned but had no expectations. An unexpected treat was when a few minutes in one of my favorite actors (Mandy Patinkin) showed up. He didn't stay quite long enough but played a pivotal part in the unfolding story.Then I watched Special Correspondents and enjoyed Ricky Gervais and his understated hilarity. The next movie had a long name I don't quite remember but had performances by Dustin Hoffman , Emma Thompson and Adam Sandler that were memorable.I chose the last movie, 'The Hollars' when I probably should have been heading up to bed, thinking I would just watch a bit of it. I watched the whole thing and was sad for it to end. The wisdom and beauty I was given gave me the title of this morning's entry. Oh what a rich and rewarding life we live when each day offers morsels of wisdom and truth.I am so grateful that each day I am shown something that strengthens me and fills my emotional toolbox. Last night it was a mother facing a life threatening illness telling her son who was overwhelmed with the challenges facing him, that he'll know when he gets there that he is OK. Anyone who knows me well knows my two mantras "everybody's Ok,and I'm Ok. " Burton always counters with " Yes everyone's OK" or "yes you are OK".Yesterday I made a list ( another thing I do ) I listed a few things that if they were to come to be instantly by some genie in the bottle magic, my worry would subside. Reflecting on the list and discussing it with my daughter later I realized that even if some magic made the list materialize there would be worry and concern still. You'll know when you get there that you will be OK. Oh boy that is huge and what it really means of course is that you already possess all you need to be OK ;each other, love, hope, strength ,compassion and past proof that you were OK when you could not imagine you could be.Tears run down my cheeks as I wrap this up. My THERE is today and today I am OK. I chose this picture just because I like it.A wise man sits astride a big pig to entertain his granddaughters.No pigs were harmed.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Funereal Flooding

In an attempt to find a word starting with F ( not a four letter word) to put with flooding I came upon the word funereal. Sad , gloomy, dismal; the definition of funereal seems right on for the feelings surrounding these days of flooding and the deep sadness of the past week. A father and young son taken in a canoe mishap, four young lives taken as the vehicle they were in careened off the road into deep water, bombings in Sri Lanka killings hundreds on Easter Sunday.Dark and dismal days accompanied by constant updates of damaging flood waters.Where to find hope in the midst of such devastation is the challenge. I remember struggling with the same feelings last year watching friends , neighbors and communities going through record flooding. I know I am not alone in this. I do constantly remind myself of my blessings and can not even imagine all of what some are facing .We wait for the sun to shine knowing it will not change the sorrow only make it more bearable. We must keep our compassion, cling to our humanity and rise above the funereal and the flooding to carry on. As I write I sense a brightness coming over my shoulder through my office window. Not bright, warm sunshine but a glow of sunlight nevertheless reminding me of better days. Hope is the lifeline we cling to and on this day I pray for hope to abound in the lives of all those affected by the losses and devastation of the past days. I take comfort in the hope that abounds in my own heart and home.

Friday, April 19, 2019

And on We Go

I laid in bed awhile this morning remembering the morning after twenty years ago. I did not allow myself to stay there , to get stuck in the deep sadness of it but got myself out of bed and into this day. That is the beauty, the gift and the challenge. One day, one foot in front of the other. The only way we have come this far and the only way blessings have unfolded amidst the pain. So today I look to the rest of April's days and the coming of May. I look ahead to many exciting and happy things that will surface and move us along. I await book number eight and am so thankful for my work. May has many writing related events and I look forward to participating and being present in them. June will bring summer and our girls. Trees will bud and blossoms will bloom. Flood waters will peak and wane. The force of all life brings will continue and we will flow along with it.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

To Call Witness

I am a strong believer in speaking our truth, in sharing our journey and of bearing witness to our experiences.As a writer I get the opportunity to fulfill this in fiction, in the crafting of story and character and for that I am truly grateful. On this platform I share in other ways and often feel the need as I sit to write to give voice to the stirrings of my heart. As this week begins and I am given another beautiful Sunday morning to ponder my thoughts I am mindful of the approaching anniversary. The date April 18th resounds so loudly in my being. I remember other years that date boring a hole in my pain. I would hear it weeks before as something would always be advertised as taking place on April 18th.I would see it on signs and TV ads and each time I would feel the jab.The torture of that has subsided somewhat but I am always mindful of the date as it approaches. This year it seems huge in the fact it will be the twentieth anniversary. The same inner reminders like April sunshine, melting snow the smell of the air,and seasonal anticipation are present this year but the glaring part is that we have now been without Zac for as long as we had him. I know the next few days will hold so many recollections and I have never shied away from processing them.Each memory however difficult is a treasure I hold on to just as each memory of his twenty years on earth are mine to keep. But the reality is having put in twenty years does not lessen the pain of it one little bit. I do not state this looking for pity or understanding I simply say it to bear witness to what is the reality of living with loss. Living with loss is something we are all called to do and escaping it is not possible . Not talking about it is not a remedy for the hurt . And talking about it does not make it linger as it never leaves. It settles somewhat as most pain does. We become used to it ,find a way to survive it but calling witness to the truth of it is not a selfish act but an honest one. Thursday morning the sun will rise and Thursday evening the sun will set. When the dawn of the first day of the twenty first year comes I will carry on, no weaker , no stronger but just as determined to bear witness to the love I have for my first born son and the sorrow that came the moment I lost him.