(March 2011, Costa Rica)
As I write this, I am anxiously awaiting two phone calls. My step-daughter is in the hospital in labor about to give birth to our first grandchild. That’s the good news. I am also preparing myself to hear sad news about a dear lady as she fights a malignant brain tumor. One birth and one death. The circle of life.
This wonderful woman is the mother of my closest childhood friend. She was nearly as important to me as my own mother during my formative years. As active as anyone I’ve ever known, she and her husband traveled the world over, and she could tell tales from each trip. A gardener, a cook, an intellectual, a mother, she was marvelous at all she did. Now she’s fighting a battle she can’t win. In my current novel, The Best Liar of All, one of my characters, a wise old woman named Rose, speaks to her nephew about grief as she counsels him over the loss of a loved one. “You will miss her your whole life, but you can’t miss your whole life because of her,” she tells him. “Honor and onward.”
News of the horrendous earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan is everywhere today. I cannot fathom the loss and destruction the Japanese people are experiencing as I sit in my home and write. Many of them won’t even be able to put their lives on hold to grieve for their loved ones. They have no choice but to rebuild their homes and businesses as they mourn the loss of husbands, wives, and children. They must push on even as they cry. Honor and onward.
Dave Matthews has a song, “Funny the Way It Is”, that talks about the ironies in life. One line says: Funny the way it is, not right or wrong/ On a soldier’s last breath, his baby’s being born. Not funny at all, if you think about it, but of course that’s the point. It’s the circle of life.
As I anticipate the birth of our newest family member, I am saddened by the impending loss of an amazing woman whom I was lucky to have known. I will honor her always, and move onward to love this baby the way she loved me.
Honor and onward.