Why is Death so Greedy?

funeralEventually, death will take us all. He will come with his cold, boney hands and lead us away. None of us can escape him. His piercing eyes see all of us—the happy children playing in the park, the woman cuddling her fresh, new baby, the old man taking his last gasp of air before reaching out for death’s cold grasp. Death knows the prize is his.

Why, then, is he so greedy?

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine collapsed in the locker room of a local rec center. He died before paramedics arrived. He was 41. He has four young children, the youngest being two. I’ve struggled since then, still in denial that he’s dead. I didn’t go to his funeral. I couldn’t make myself go. My own mortality reflected back in my face from the tragedy. They did an autopsy and still have no answers to why he died.

Death cashed in early, took him before his time. Did he really need to take a husband, father, middle school teacher, faithful churchgoer, years before old age set in? And what I wonder is, was one life not enough? Because yesterday I was informed that his wife just found out that she has cancer. His insurance policy is being canceled at the end of the month. She has no idea what she’s going to do. She has had no time to mourn the loss of her mate, and now she is staring down death herself. My head still can’t wrap itself around this information.

My best friend and I had boys two months apart. My son will be turning 21 in a few months. Hers died at the age of twelve. I was at the hospital when he died. He had been diagnosed with ALL (leukemia) only six days previous. I did go to his funeral, and these were some of the thoughts I had. My heart hurts so bad. Why did he have to die? I’m so glad it wasn’t my son! Why do I feel so guilty?? 

It’s remarkable that I am having some of those same thoughts now. How could this happen? My heart hurts. He can’t be dead. Thank God it wasn’t my husband. Why do I feel so guilty??

My husband has noticed I have been clinging to him the past few weeks. I’ve noticed he’s been holding my hand a little bit too tight. And deep inside I know that both of us are scared. We’ve seen a lot of death in the past few years. Friends, co-workers, and children of friends have died. A big fat reminder that his eyes are on us too.

It’s tragic that death doesn’t come only for the elderly, the people who have lived what they could out of life and are happy for death to lead them into the next grand journey. But life isn’t fair like that. Death is there, lurking, as a reminder to love fully, to care deeply, to forgive quickly, and to live greatly.

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Daydreams and Nightmares

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My dreams and nightmares are intensely vivid. Most of the time, when I am asleep, I don’t feel like I’m sleeping. I’ve been chased by gang members, ridden an elevator to space, and have even died in an airplane accident. Have you ever heard that if you die in a dream, you die in real life? Well, if that is the case, then I have been living as a ghost for the past few years without realizing it. This thought brings me to the strangest dream/wake event I have ever experienced. Several months ago I woke from a pretty intense dream. When I’m startled abruptly and am in that half wake/half sleep stage, my brain can think up some crazy stuff. In this case, I woke thirsty and rose from my bed to get a drink. Half-way down the stairs sadness consumed me as I realized that I had died in my sleep, and was now a ghost. I drifted to the cupboard, snatched a glass off the shelf, and proceeded to get a drink of water. Not once did I think that drinking water proved that I was still alive. I made my way back up the stairs, wondering how I would break the news to my family that I was no longer with them. Arriving at my bed, I saw that my body was not there. I looked down at my hands and arms, finally in the stage of almost being completely awake and thought, oh there it is! Comforted that I was alive for yet another day, I climbed into the bed and fell asleep. Of course, in the morning I laughed at what had transpired in the dark hours of the night. My husband just shakes his head at me when I tell him about my nightly adventures. He is amazed at the way my brain works in such a creative fashion.

In the daytime, my thoughts often get away from me. I’ve already discussed the seemingly catatonic state my husband sometimes finds me in, wondering why I’m staring at the wall. In reality, I’m lost in a far-off world trying to figure out how to escape a terrifying situation. But I also see ‘make-believe’ in mundane situations happening all around me during the day. My mind doesn’t stop; it’s crammed to the brim with ideas.

Lately, I’ve wondered about the correlation between my night-time dreams and my daydreams.  Is it because I have such vivid dreams that I am so creative, or am I so creative that it causes me to have such vivid dreams? This led me to think about all the creative thinkers out there. The writers, artists, actors, and other creative people. What happens to them when they sleep? Is there a connection between vivid dreaming and creativity? I would like to know. Tell me your thoughts on the topic. What kind of experiences have you had with dreaming, nightmares, and creativity? Please, leave a comment, a thought, a story or a musing. Tell me about your dreams.

Confessions of a Derp

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Sometimes I’m a derp. It’s the truth. I am not ashamed to be a derp; it’s part of my wiring. I’ve been this way my entire life. That doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I’m actually quite intelligent. I graduated college with honors; Golden Key International Honor Society, thank you very much. I have often told people that I am the smartest ditz they will ever meet.

Once a friend of mine asked me if I dyed my hair brown, and that if I were blonde underneath would that mean I had artificial intelligence. This was back in the day when blonde jokes were acceptable, please don’t judge.

When I was in college, a roommate introduced me to Saturday Night Live. I had never watched it, let alone heard of it before going off on my own to bravely face college life. It was fascinating to me. These were the days of Chris Farley living in a van down by the river, Mike Meyers playing his guitar in the garage, and getting a weekend update from Kevin Nealon; definitely the good ole days. I was so fascinated in fact, that one afternoon when my roommate came home I asked her if she wanted to watch Saturday Night Live with me. She furrowed her brow and frowned. “You realize it’s only Wednesday, right?”

I’m sure my roommates at the time often wondered how I passed any of my classes. One of them stood back and watched as I frantically searched for my glasses. I couldn’t find them anywhere and was panicking. I was dangerously close to being late for a class. Eventually, my roommate pointed at my face and said, “Your glasses are already on your face.” Ah, the relief I felt as I ran off to class. Of course, this is probably where the nickname wacky Wendy came from. A nickname I carried with pride.

My most recent episode came a few days ago while looking for my purse. I could not find it anywhere. I went to the garage to see if I had left it in the car but found the door locked. I went back in the house, rummaged through my purse to find my keys, and then went back out to the car to look for my purse. I am not making this up; I really do stuff like that. After a few seconds, I realized what I had done and went back in the house.

I consider my derpiness a sign of my brain being overstuffed with thoughts, stories, and things to get done. I got a lot going on up there; it can be hard to focus on mundane things like where my glasses are. It doesn’t bother me when I see people giggle at my antics. It comes with the territory. I suppose some of the best daydreamers, storytellers, authors, etc. have some kind of a streak of derp in them. Are you one of them? If you are, leave a comment and tell me about it!

My Secret Life

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Small drops of water splashed against my head and tumbled down my back. The air around me was dense with moisture. Only a few rays of light peeked through the trees, and I knew it would be dark soon.  I trembled, wondering when the monsters would come. I knew I needed to make camp quickly, and find a dry spot to build a fire.

The soft burn of eyes boring into my side caused the tiny hairs on my arms to stand upright. It was then I knew I was not alone.

My heart leapt in my chest. Anxiety tightened my throat. I slowly turned my head and saw my husband staring at me through the glass shower door. He had a worried look on his face.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why?” I replied as the daydream slowly slipped from my mind.

“You were staring at the wall with a really zoned-out look on your face.”

I sighed. My world and the creatures in it had completely disappeared.

I don’t know how long I had been staring at the wall in my shower. I would have probably stayed like that until the water ran cold. I suppose I have a real kinship with Walter Mitty. The world, to me, is not as it seems. There are creatures and mystical beings residing in blades of grass, hiding behind trees, and living in the shapes in my shower. Portals to unknown worlds are right at the tips of my fingers. I can’t go to the grocery store without seeing something that sparks a new thought in my mind. There are so many stories that my brain bulges with ideas.  Adventure is everywhere.

The exciting part of my secret life is that I have the ability to transport myself anywhere in the cosmos, real or imagined. I can be anyone I want to be. And what should be a simple trip to the grocery store never really is so simple. I have saved the world on many occasions, roamed through secret gardens, worn the clothes of a superhero, and lived life in a musical.

Sometimes when I pass by others on the street, I wonder if they too have a secret life. Is that guy a secret agent delivering the secret code to save the world? Maybe she is really a princess from a faraway planet and was sent here through a secret portal for safety, and she’s secretly putting together an army of mystics to retake her planet. The possibilities are endless.

I think my husband has come to realize that when he finds me staring blankly into space that I have transported myself somewhere else, living among my creatures, and most likely trying to decide what happens to them next. It is a life all my own. Someday I hope to share some of it with the rest of you.

If you are willing, tell me about your secret life. Are you a daydreamer too?

Encouragement

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Encouragement can come from unique places. Today I received my second rejection letter from a publisher. This rejection letter was even more exciting than the first. They claim that they actually read the manuscript and enjoyed it. They just don’t have the marketing for a book of this type. They even encourage me to try and get it published. Wow. Nice shot in the arm to keep me motivated. Seriously, I have heard so many horror stories of agonizing, soul-crushing rejection letters that I had prepared myself for the worst. Two decent rejections in a row will keep me motivated to continue the journey to publish my book.

For those of you querying out there, what was the worst/best rejection letter you ever received?

Death

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I never personally met the man. The closest I ever came to knowing him was through listening to his raspy breath exuding from a room beyond my view. He had a stroke a little over a year ago, about the same time I moved into the neighborhood. Another neighbor and I have visited with his wife, once a month, for close to a year now. He succumbed to his illness on Halloween. Today was his funeral.

The funeral was beautiful. His family was there—his wife, children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren. There was a room full of friends who had known him for a very long time. Many of the people in my neighborhood have lived here thirty plus years. The man and his wife have been here over fifty.

Many people stood and honored this late man’s life. The funeral lasted an hour and a half. I found that for most of it tears leaked from my eyes, even though I didn’t personally know him. The tributes were heartfelt. Each grandchild spoke of their favorite memory; children spoke of the life’s lessons he taught.

There is nothing better to put a life into perspective than to attend a funeral. During the tributes, I thought over my own life. What would my children say about me if I died tomorrow? What were the most important things in my life? Was it my family? Time? Or trivial things that you can’t take with you when you die? What am I leaving behind? Memories? Are the memories good ones?  Do I sometimes speak too harsh?

I am grateful that even in death this man was able to give a wonderful gift to someone he never knew. I want to say thank you, for reminding me of the most precious things in life; my family.

 

Death does not always come quickly. Sometimes it is drawn out, like a long, raspy breath. A body, weakening over time, becomes thin skin stretched over bones. The mind slowly dims, and the only thing left in his voice is a simple children’s song. He sings it one last time before he closes his mortal eyes.

Sweet Rejection

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Rejection is part of the process. I know this. It’s an event I have braced myself for.

Over the last month, I have been querying smaller publishers, those that don’t require an agent. I’ve done my research and know that even the greats were rejected many times before getting published. Even if I am rejected by every single publisher I submit to, I have a contingency plan. My world is too important to shuffle into a drawer somewhere. It will get published. But, my big dream is to see my book in a bookstore, sitting on a shelf, wedged between its fantasy brothers and sisters, all yearning for a child’s hand to reach out and grasp its pages.

I have sent out many queries this past month. Each publisher has had a specific timeline for hearing back, if at all. The least is four months, stretching all the way to eight. That’s fine with me. It gives me time to finish the second book in the series. Therefore, I was seriously surprised to hear back from one of the publishers only an hour after querying. It was the nicest rejection letter I could have ever received. It was simple and to the point. They are a small press, and my manuscript isn’t right for the few titles they publish per year. It was painless. I had been bracing myself for insult, injury, damage to my soul. I’ve read people’s stories of rejection letters. And here in a tiny little e-mail was a simple, kind rejection. Oh, the joy I feel. For I know, the next one may hurt, but my first was just so peaceful.

I smiled for a while after receiving the rejection. It gave me hope. I reminded me that I have in fact written an entire book, with another one partially written. What an accomplishment! I have created a world with people and creatures and stories. I am so grateful that my first rejection didn’t crush my soul, because now I have more motivation to keep going until I see my world splashed on the pages of a book.