In Spite of It All, Spring Comes

In spite of it all, spring comes.

This morning, I woke up and read about forty-nine people murdered in Christchurch, about the horrid, insidious spread of white nationalism, about hatred so entrenched someone justifies live-streaming a massacre.

Then my daughter spoke with me about her worries for a friend: how depressed are they? are they suicidal? how can we reach out and help people? how do we help and care while maintaining boundaries that allow us to be healthy? what are healthy boundaries? how do we keep others’ problems from consuming us?

Then when it was just my son and me in the car on the way to school, my son says: Mom, it seems like Gary is just getting worse and worse. Will he keep getting worse? Will he die?

So we had a long conversation about incurable, degenerative disease. We’ve had this talk before, but we revisit as needed. Yes. That means it gets worse. No, Parkinson’s doesn’t kill people, but, yes, it’s likely Gary will have a shorter lifespan than he would have. But no, he’s not in any imminent danger of death. And yes, we’ve lost things. It’s okay to mourn. It’s okay to be sad, because we wish Gary didn’t have Parkinson’s. It’s okay to grieve. And yet, we can still hold onto the good moments, the things we have left, the things we share, the things we can do together, the love we all still have. But, yes, my sensitive, loving son, there is a ton of grief.

That was today, so far.

Yesterday was also kind of a rough and weird day, especially for my son. All of us were stuck in our respective work/school safe areas for about two hours during a tornado warning. He lost his favorite hoodie, which may have walked away with another kid. He had a number of other small, but meaningful-to-him disappointments. While I tucked him in, he burst into tears and said, “I think I’ve ruined my life.”

I was a bad mom in that moment. I laughed. I laughed without meaning to. I laughed at the over-intense drama. I laughed because he’s 12 and there’s no way he’s done anything close to ruining his life. I laughed because he’s wonderful and in no way ruined.

He immediately said, “Don’t laugh!” and all the angst and anguish, the giant life emotions, the earnestness of his pain rang in his voice.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry. You feel awful and you’re right: no one should ever laugh at you for feeling awful. Your feelings matter.”

No one should laugh at pain.

I held him while he cried and eventually fell asleep.

He said, “I think I’ve ruined my life,” but I think what he meant was this: Why is life so hard? Why is there suffering? Why do I feel bad? If I feel bad, I must have done something wrong. Why do I feel like I must have done something wrong when I don’t even know what that would have been? There must have been something I did wrong for the world to have come to such a state–a state of sorrow and grief, frustration and anger, loneliness, pain, hatred, death. Why? WHY? How can I fix the world? How can it be possible that I can’t fix the world? If you’re telling me I didn’t do anything wrong and this is just the way the world is, then that means I can’t even fix it?? If I can’t fix the world, then what next? Why oh why is there such suffering? Am I powerless over the suffering?

There is so much grief and suffering. The weight of it, when I allow myself to feel it, threatens to smother me.

And yet.

Yesterday, the first of our crocuses bloomed. Purple ones, which are my favorite. I didn’t plant these. In fact, I didn’t even know they were there.

We moved into a new house last May and these little gifts–these miracles–these bulbs now twine upward into the sun. Purple crocuses around one tree. Clusters of green stems and leaves race to show in our flower beds. Will they be tulips? Daffodils? Irises? Hyacinths? I have no idea. They are shockingly joyful surprises and I will watch them unfold.

Somehow this all makes sense to me, the way the pain and suffering intertwines with the gentle reminder of life and beauty, the notice me of love and light.

Yes. I will notice you, little bulbs. I will celebrate your beauty and bravery. I will let you remind me.

In spite of it all, spring comes.


A cluster of five purple crocus blooms and green leaves popping up in brown mulch.




Odyssey and Hibernation

I’m back.

I think. Mostly. Or at least kind of.

January was a hectic, busy, overwhelming month where I took NOT ONE, BUT TWO Odyssey online writing classes (because I’m an overzealous glutton for work?). I learned a lot. I spent at least 15 hours a week on the classes (some weeks more). I wrote 24k words in total–and these weren’t first draft words, but were at least semi-edited and ready for classmates/teacher critique.

I also did all the normal things of life, like, you know, my actual paying job, parenting 3 kids, care-partnering with Gary, cooking at least some of the time (we survived on more frozen food than usual), and cleaning a bit (um, the house did suffer).

By the end of the month, I was pretty damned exhausted. I took the last 4 weeks off from any expectation of writing–I looked at a few things once or twice, but accomplished mostly nothing except rejuvenation. And that’s okay!!!!

So, Sarah, what did you think of the Odyssey online classes? 

I learned a lot and I’m still absorbing everything. I would NOT recommend taking two at the same time (SO MUCH), but also? I’m glad I did, because the two classes were so very different–the teachers were quite different, the “style” of the classes were different–if I’d only taken one, I might have a completely different picture of the classes writ large. I’m proud of myself for working as hard as I did.

What were your classes about?

One focused on “emotional truth”–depicting realistic, evocative, compelling emotional stories in writing. The other focused on “realistic descriptions”–using descriptive text to establish character, mood, POV, etc.

I went in thinking the topics would be quite different, but actually felt an amazing level of congruity in what I learned. I’m ready to put some of this thinking and some of these techniques to work.

Would you recommend the Odyssey classes?

ABSOLUTELY. You’ll get as much out of them as you put in.

What are you going to do now? 

I’m getting back to long-overdue edits for Rising Wolf, adapting SMASH for an adult market, and getting back to Marked. Edits first. Must finish or my editor may hunt me down.

Will you be around more on this blog and social media?

Uh, I’m not sure who’s asking, because I’m not 100% convinced anyone missed my presence, but YES, I’m gonna try really hard to be present. 🙂