It seems like forever since I’ve last posted on my blog. So much has happened over the past four months, and I apologize for not including you in my recent journeys. I have, in fact, been writing each and every day, for up to five hours at a time. In addition to working the long summer hours at the toy store, my brain was focused on ripping apart a beloved novel because I had a “bit of worry.” (I am forever grateful to the editor who used this phrase in their rejection letter, as their worry led to my worry.) I’ve spent May and June being brave, and doing something I’d never tried before. I bid a heartfelt adieu to a character in Savannah’s Mountain, and then found the courage to sit back and wait for Savannah to return to me. Whisper to me. And she did, and I listened, and I discovered that another character belonged within the pages of her story. As I tossed aside chunks of the manuscript, my father’s words echoed in my head. And this gave me strength and hope that I could face the challenge.
Set aside your personal feelings and do what serves the story best.
I hope, dear readers, to share more about this process and about other journeys, I’ve traveled since May. But for now, I have something important to do. I need to tell my father my good news: news he’s been expecting for almost twenty years.
It has been nearly a year since I last held your hand, stroked your head, and told you that it was okay to leave this earth. I know you wanted so much to hang on, and those words “I need to live long enough to see you published” stay within my heart. It is okay that you let go. You deserved to be in peace, without pain. And perhaps that is what needed to happen in order to allow each of us to grow. Since your death, I’ve worked even harder, and my writing has gone to places I’d never imagined. Maybe a bit of your immense talent was left behind on this earth, and now tiny pieces are growing within the hearts and souls of your family.
Lately, your presence is strong, and it brings me much comfort. Perhaps a bit of your spirit was in the dragonfly that insisted on sitting on our jade plant, twisting and turning his head, giving me a quizzical look. It stayed with me for nearly an hour, as if to watch and make sure I was writing on the porch and doing my work as I promised you I would. You may have been the butterfly that posed for over twenty minutes among our flowers or the red-tailed hawk soaring in the sky above me when I learned some good news.
These are moments when I look up at that great blue sky or wonder at the beauty of a sunset or lose my breath over a glorious full moon or take great joy at seeing your great-granddaughter in awe of a beluga whale. This is when I become the little girl sitting next to you in our backyard long ago, watching your fingers fly across a yellow legal pad as you tried to keep up with the setting sun. I remember swinging my growing legs, not knowing how the deep desire to write was finding its way from where you sat in a sagging lawn chair into my heart. This is when the creative seed was planted, only to grow and grow over the years, until I could no longer ignore the passion.
Now, it is still dark outside, and I have been awake since 4 a.m., because before I can go on to the stage of becoming a published author, I need to hear your voice and tell you what you’d been waiting for all these years. You saw something in me that I didn’t yet understand. At times, I still don’t. So I settle on my porch in a lawn chair and listen to one of the recordings of that wonderful, musical voice of yours. Hearing you speak gives me much comfort, and I thank you for letting me record you over the last year of your life.
Are you listening, Dad? I got the call, and I now have a brilliant and loving agent (Emily van Beek with Folio Literary), who speaks of my writing with a tone so familiar, I poured over all your emails, I can never delete. And there it was. My Emily’s words reflect yours. So perhaps you had a hand in this. Perhaps you sent her to me so I can be pushed, and will then ultimately give my best work to the world. Know that I am listening, and that I will continue to listen to you, Dad.
Know that I’ve kept my promise.
Lastly, I want you to assure that we are all good here on this earth: your children, your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. And Mom, we are watching out for Mom.
Not a day goes by when I don’t miss you, when I don’t give thanks for having had you in my life. I am so, so lucky.
I love you oodles and boodles and Skittles galore.
Your daughter, Betsy
P.S.- Dad, I’m doing great. I hope you are too.