Monday, April 1, 2013

Starting Over After Sadness

Until two months ago, I felt unstoppable as a writer.  I felt like this was my year to do big things.  Every year I seemed to be getting further ahead than the last so I entered 2013 with a good feeling. Two months ago something happened that yanked the rug from under the feet of my world and changed my perspective; at least for a little while.

Two months ago, my father died. My father wasn't always in the best of health.  He was a recovering alcoholic with four years of sobriety under his belt. He had diabetes. He was a heavy smoker.  He was obese. Last year, he was in the hospital with pneumonia and sepsis and a litany of other health problems that threatened to claim his life.

After two lengthy hospital stays last year, my dad came back with a renewed sense of purpose. While still in the hosptial he told me he was going to be a better person. He had three major goals.  He wanted to quit smoking. He wanted to go to church more, and he wanted to make a better effort to see his elderly mother who's been in a nursing home for several years.

Quitting smoking didn't happen. That was one addiction he never could shake. His first night home from the hospital he made a midnight run to liquor store for a couple of packs of smokes. Not that I blamed him or even expected otherwise.  He always joked that he gave up alcohol so we had to leave him something. The two goals he did realize were making a better effort to get to church regularly and to see my grandmother more often. Knowing my dad, he'd say two of out of three wasn't bad.

I admired his sense of purpose though. I admired it and I mirrored it. I recommitted myself to being a better writer and reaching more people with my work. I hoped to reach my goal of mainstream publication this year and touch even more lives; at least I did for a little while.

When my father died at the age of fifty-nine, I lost more than his presence in my life. I lost the motivation to succeed at writing. To be honest, I lost the motivation to write.  I couldn't bring myself to write, which seemed to work out pretty well since I didn't have any good story ideas anyway. 

Despite this loss of interest and motiviation, my family, friends and fans stayed supportive. They enouraged me to take the time I needed to heal and come back when I was ready.  So many people reached out to me to offer kind words of support, including strangers who knew me only through my writing.

Two months have passed. The pain never goes away, but every day really is easier than the one before it. More and more lately, I've been thinking about my dad.  My dad was one of my biggest supporters in my writing and in my life. I still feel lost without him, but I made a promise to my dad once. It's a promise I'm not sure he ever heard since he was in a coma when I made it, but a promise is a promise.

I promised my father no matter what happened I'd be okay.  It's time to start living up to that promise.  It's time to go back to making my dad proud. It's time to start over after the sadness.

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