In 1982, I turned eighteen, graduated from high school, got married, and had my first baby, all between March and December.
In 1985, I turned twenty-one, lost my husband in a motorcycle accident, and had my second child, all between March and December.
In 1988, I went on my first date after my husband’s death, fell in love, got married, and lost a baby, all between June and November.
Life comes at me in rather large and speedy chunks, hurled like snowballs I can’t always dodge. I’ve had precious few completely smooth years in my life. There have been. The first five of our Country Farm years. It was like a dream I still take out and relive now and again. Moving to the house on the river, until Christofer’s accident (2003-2006.) After Chris’ accident, life revolved around his recovery, or lack thereof, but they were also good years–just not smooth and carefree. Jamie and Joshua got married in 2007, ah, the joy! Outside of the regular stuff like graduations and high school musicals, I can’t remember anything especially momentous or dire. 2008-2010, aside from ongoing procedures for Chris, were very good years. He was at his best, and that allowed all of us to breathe easier. To hope. To heal along with him.
In 2010, I sold my first book, and found out my son was using heroin. It’s been a fair bit of chaos shot through with absolute joy ever since. The births of my grandchildren. Christofer’s ongoing struggle with pain, addiction, and anxiety. Gracie’s deepening sense of invisibility. The more horrendous my family life, the more momentous became my writing career. And then in 2015, we lost our son. The tailspin experienced by my family took a good couple of years to pull out of, but here in 2017, we’re all breathing a little easier. Hoping. Healing.
This year, I sold A Thousand Different Ways to William Morrow, as well as to Bastei Lubbe (German translation,) and my husband lost his job of eighteen years. Phased out. At sixty-seven years old. The up. The down. It’s a bit dizzying. Maybe it’s true for everyone. I could wish for a little boredom now and then.
Twenty-nine years ago today, Frankie D and I got engaged. We already knew we were getting married, but weren’t doing the engagement ring thing. In an impetuous moment while stuck in traffic, Frankie D saw a jewelry store in a strip mall on the highway. He pulled in. “I’m buying you a ring!”
If my future self came to me, back when I was eighteen, or even twenty-four, and told me, “This is the path of your life; do you want to change it?” Wipe away all the bad? Does that mean I also wipe away my kids? My grandkids? Brian and Frank? My career? Of course, future self could never answer those questions. That’s why I’d probably have to punch her in the face, because who does that to a person?
The years fly so fast. Another summer is coming to a close. August begins my favorite time of year–crickets and cooler weather; Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; Scottie coming home for a visit. There’s no way to know what joys and sorrows I’ll find on my path. I just know they’re there, waiting.