Monthly Archives: June 2015

Again, life changes

I wrote about bats in my last post, and how Bat symbolizes death and rebirth. I had no anticipation of it foreboding something as literal as my son’s death. But Bat told true. Chris died, and we are embarking upon discovering a life without him in it, physically. I know my son is with me, now and always. He’s free of all the chaos in that beautiful head of his. And his gentle heart can love without conflict. No more pain in his leg, his foot, in his mind. Free, free, free. That is the word that keeps echoing through my brain.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in God or the Devil, in Heaven or Hell. Modesty may be for suckers, but I am not arrogant enough to believe I’m capable of understanding the universe and all its secrets. But there is a reason I write ghost stories, and in each of them is another facet of what might be, some facet I hold in the possibility of true. There is no one afterlife, just like there is no one existence in this physical realm. Maybe because I’m a writer, someone who doesn’t believe in one truth, I am open to those possibilities. I choose to notice, to find meaning, and to take comfort from little signs I get that he’s near.

Last week, my amazing friend, Diana showed up. She lives outside of Philadelphia, three hours away. Such love, all that way when she couldn’t even stay. She handed me a book and told me, “Before I left my house, I said, ‘Christofer, if I have something in my  home that’s going to give your mother comfort, show me.’ ” Her eyes went immediately to a book–A Year with Rilke. Ok, strange. But whatever. She opened it up directly to this poem:

The Departure of the Prodigal Son

To go forth now
from all the entanglement
that is ours and yet not ours,
that, like the water in an old well,
reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.

From all that clings like burrs and brambles—
to go forth
and see for once, close up, afresh,
what we had ceased to see—
so familiar it had become.
To glimpse how vast and how impersonal
is the suffering that filled your childhood.

Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.
Go forth to what? To uncertainty,
to a country with no connections to us
and indifferent to the dramas of our life.

What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct,
a dark need, the incapacity to understand.

To bow to all this.
To let go—
even if you have to die alone.

Is this the start of a new life?

Coincidence? Maybe. I choose to believe it was my son fulfilling the loving request of my friend. There have been so many strange little things that I could put off as coincidence, or me wanting to see something to give me comfort. To that I say, so be it.


Filed under Family

Bats, rebirth, and listening to the universe

A friend of mine recently sold her first book to the publisher of her dreams. She is seventy-one. Coincidentally, I became acquainted with another woman who just celebrated the release of her first traditionally published novel. She is seventy-four. I, myself, was published for the first time when I was forty-six (Finder, November 2010 from Hadley Rille Books.) At fifty, I wrote my first romance (Seeking Carolina, October 2015 from Kensington/Lyrical Shine.)  At fifty one, got another two books contracted with Kensington. Many, many of my writer friends were first published over the age of forty. Put that on the back burner for a moment.

We had a bat in the house the other night. Try as we did to catch it or lure it to one of the opened windows, it just wasn’t getting it. We finally left the windows open and went to bed. The whole thing was a bit harrowing, ending at 3:45 am with the poor little thing injured by my kitties of wonder and squeaking us awake. We managed to capture it and get it outside, but it could only scrabble away. It wasn’t there in the morning, so I’m hoping it eventually managed to fly off. When I reported this adventure on Facebook the next morning, my friend Karin Gastreich commented, “So I’m assuming you’ve looked up the meaning of Bat?”


brown bat

Medicine Cards are a kind of Tarot based in Native American lore and culture. Karin introduced them to me and all the dollbabies a few years ago in Virginia Beach. It became a staple of our trip. I also ended up buying my own set. They’re a tool when you want to focus your thoughts, and a fabulous meditation tool. It is the Bat in this set of cards Karin referred to.

Long and short–Bat symbolizes rebirth. Change. It asks us to listen to the universe, to our inner selves, and not fight the change, this breaking of old habits. I listened, not just for myself and my household, but applied it to the world around me. And this is why these meditation cards are so wonderful–they make us notice things we might not have.

In my household, we are on the brink of many “rebirths.” The kids are no longer children, and mostly out of the house. For each and every one of them, rebirth is taking place in some form. My oldest daughter leaves life with infants behind for the next phase in their lives. My oldest son is between jobs, and searching for his true path. My youngest son, who’d moved out for a job in a town too far to commute to, decided it was more important to finish his degree. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend of nearly seven years broke up, and she is rediscovering who she is. My stepson embarks upon “life with teens.” His oldest is thirteen this November. And, of course, Frank and I step into a new world of being, for the first time, just the two of us. We got a taste of it during the two months our son lived elsewhere. I can say without qualm that I’m looking forward to empty nest.

But let’s take those over-forty writers off the back burner. It is not just my small world on that moment of change. My dear friend, my new acquaintance–reborn in their seventies. Where else is Bat flying? Another writer-friend who just moved from the town she’d raised her children in to a town across the country. Another friend who just launched her new website. Another friend who is out of work for the first time–at age fifty-eight–since she was a teenager. And yet another friend who finally moved into the new house she and her family had been dreaming of, and working on, for three years.

Of course, I was aware of all these things, but Bat made me aware of them in a different way. A collective way. Change is all around us, all the time. We need to listen to the universe and notice the connections. Honor the changes and how they alter not only our own lives, but those around us.


Filed under Family

Words are strange

I love language. All languages. All words and dialects. The study of language entertains and intrigues me. Words. What are they? Utterances that embody objects that sometimes change, sometimes die out. These utterances were eventually written down, lines and pictures strung together to give form to those utterances. On rock, vellum, papyrus, wood*. Scribes created lists that tell us what our long-ago ancestors bought, sold, traded. Those who knew how to create and translate such things were magical. Then came those who compiled more than lists; they put those lines and curves of utterances to work telling stories. They created books.

Words. Lists. Stories. Books. Magical things. Spells cast and generations of humanity enthralled by these simple lines and curves joined together to make words that call up those utterances once only spoken. It wasn’t so long ago that this magic was reserved for the wealthy, for those with leisure time to learn how these strung-together symbols made words into stories, into histories.

All this got me to thinking, about the ever-present alien looking down on Earth, trying to figure out what we are doing, staring at lines and symbols**, in print and on screen. I imagine it wondering, “What is so intriguing about those squiggles that so many will stare at them for hours?” And that led into me thinking about how easy, how thrilling it is to lose oneself in a story, but also how odd. Sitting in one place (or not) staring at words that make a story that creates a whole world inside our heads–how does that even happen? What is the science behind it? Or is it, as our ancestors must have believed, truly magic?

Why does H O U S E mean the edifice one lives in? Where did that word come from? Not house, itself. I know it is from the Proto-Germanic word, husan. Before that, it might have been Goth. But what about before that? How did words come to mean things? Who grunted the first sounds that would become house?

And I am intrigued all over again, a circle I never tire of spinning round and around. Maybe I’m weird, but I have a feeling many of you reading this get it completely.

*Did you know that runes are mostly slanted versions of the Roman alphabet? Why slanted? Because they were being carved into wood, and the grain of wood made getting it consistently legible with straight, horizontal lines a bit precarious.

**Because not all languages on Earth have a writing system, so maybe aliens don’t either. There are some 7,105 living languages, and only 3,570 have a developed writing system.


Filed under Grammar