Saturday, March 26, 2011

Life is life

My co-worker’s memorial service was yesterday. It was wonderful and horrible, happy and sorrowful.

I didn’t know Meghan that well. She had only worked with us for about a year when she left for maternity leave. Three months after her son’s birth, she was diagnosed with stage four ademocarcinoma. For all intent and purpose, that’s a death sentence. Sure, for some people, radiation and chemotherapy melt the cancer away and for that person, their cancer is held at bay and they live for two, three, four, or even more years. But the average life expectancy is 6 to 12 months with treatment.

I don’t know all of this because of Meghan’s diagnosis but because of the research and doctor’s visits after my husband’s diagnosis three days after Christmas. As I followed Meghan’s journey on The Caring Bridge, a site where family and friends, or even the patient, can post blog-like entries and keep other family and friends, near and far up-to-date, I was living in my mind the journey my husband and I would be taking. He has accepted it and is fighting the good fight with treatments, with the eye on a few good months to spend with me, his daughter and her family, and friends. I am praying for a miracle.

All of this of course has put a damper on the publication of Snow Day. It is hard to give too much attention to an inanimate object when all I can think of is the limited time available to give my attention to the very animate object who needs it so much. It is difficult to be happy about seeing my book in print when my heart is breaking. I hold Snow Day in my hand and my heart swells with pride and seconds later it collapses in on itself as I think of future books and who won’t be there to share that success with me.

But life is life, it is what it is. We can’t change that, we can only move ahead, one step at a time, one day at a time and handle it all with as much grace as we can muster.That’s what Meghan’s memorial reminded me of. She handled her cancer with hope, determination, and grace. Several people spoke at her memorial, recalling encounters with Meghan and how she had affected their lives. For me, I will remember how she handled it all, with no outward signs of bitterness or anger.

Her friend Amy read a poem by Mother Theresa called “Life is.” It struck a chord with me, so much so that I did a Google search for it as soon as I got back to the office. I printed it out and put it on our refrigerator, so Bate and I can see it every day. I want to embrace every day, I want Bate to embrace every day, just as Meghan did. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to do just that. I want to share it with all of you now, to remind anyone who reads my blog today that “life is life, fight for it.”

Life is…

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it."
— Mother Teresa

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

Spring has come to the Shenandoah Valley. That's what the calendar tells me and that's what my garden tells me too -- my crocuses are fading and my daffodils are blooming. Even my Charlie Brown forsythia bush is in bloom.

Let me rephrase that. It has some blooms. Of course, I should be glad that it has blooms at all, suffering from plant identity confusion as it is. I bought it at a garden group's plant sale, and this little, barely there "stick" with leaves was labeled as a redbud. Imagine my surprise last spring when, instead of the bright pink flowers I was expecting, I saw those bright yellow harbingers of spring, forsythia blossoms. If I was confused, consider what that little stick with leaves was feeling? If someone with gardening expertise doesn't know what it is, how can the stick with leaves have any way of self-identifying?

It's been a brave little stick with leaves, though. During its first winter, we had over 50 inches of snow. It bloomed anyway. This year, winter couldn't make up its mind -- was it winter or summer posing as winter? Our temperatures flipped flopped from one extreme to another. And it's blooming anyway.

My little forsythia bush has given me inspiration. It has fought against the odds and so can I. The arrival of spring means a hiatus in marketing Snow Day. Who wants to think about ski jackets and snow boots in July, after all? Come September, it will be time to re-establish my marketing plan, schedule book signings,and once again focus on getting the word out about my first book.

In the meantime though, I'm gearing up for spring and summer in my garden and in my writing. I walkd around the yard this morning and made a list of spring gardening clean-up chores. My mind is racing with ideas for new gardens in the backyard -- and with ideas for new books. Following on the theme of Snow Day -- enjoying the great outdoors instead computers I am fleshing out a book that gets kids out into their own backyard to do a series of entertaining and educational science projects. And to satisfy the mystery lover in my soul, I'm developing the plot for what I hope will be the first in a series of middle grade books about a group of kids who decide to spend their summer vacation doing good deeds and instead find a summer's worth of adventure.

I definitely have a busy spring and summer ahead of me! How about you?


To celebrate spring, I'm introducing a new blog feature -- The KC Quiz. No prizes, just what I hope will be a fun exchange. So, tell all the KC followers and readers: what's your favorite sign of spring?