When my life took a horrible, unexpected turn seven weeks ago, I knew it would be changed forever—I now only have one kid to raise, instead of two, after all. One child onto which to pin all my hopes and dreams and fears. And of course the fears are exasperated, while I desperately work to keep the hopes and dreams in check. This is her life, not mine, no matter how much I would like to tell her exactly how I want it to turn out.
What I didn’t expect was quite how changed it would be. There are so many little things that otherwise would have gone completely unnoticed. There is far less laundry to wash and we run the dishwasher less often. We make smaller meals. The house doesn’t get messy quite as quickly as it once did. There are no arguments over what to watch when we have Family Movie Night.
The trip from Detroit to Dallas, when we went on vacation a few weeks ago, was a breeze. We hardly stopped, and there were no cries from the backseat: “Stay on your side.” “Stop touching me.” “No, I don’t want to share that [insert anything here].” And the one every parent loathes… “Are we there yet?” My daughter was far more fascinated with crossing state lines than she was in the final destination.
There are negative small, unexpected changes, as well. Who the hell is going to mow my lawn? Or snow blow my driveway next winter? My daughter believes emptying the dishwasher is torture, and now she has to do it every single time. She doesn’t understand why she cannot stay home alone, and half those snacks in the snack drawer need to be given away to someone, because she’s never going to eat them. Grocery shopping is more of a chore than ever, because I have to figure out what the hell my daughter likes to eat. My son ate anything, so I didn’t have to put much thought into snacks and breakfast food.
And then there are the big ones. While purchasing a cemetery plot for my son, my husband and I purchased the one right next door for ourselves, and selected the engraving for the headstone, too. Afterward, we joked that this was more permanent than getting married.
There have been some big changes in my writing life, too. I’ve hardly done much writing, partially due to grieving-inducing writer’s block and partially because I have little time to dedicate to it these days. We’re constantly busy, which is by design, as idle minds think about things they’d rather not dwell on. I’ve also taken a hiatus from editing. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to it, and that’s okay. Initially, I felt this overwhelming need to rush everything along, as if that would somehow rush along the healing process, too. But I’ve recently realized that isn’t going to happen, so it’s okay to slow down everything else, too.
Another big change—probably the biggest, as it pertains to writing—is I’ve backed out of attending the A Weekend With Authors event, which is scheduled for May 13-15 in Nashville, Tennessee. I was supposed to be one of the featured authors.
For two weeks I struggled with this decision. I tried giving myself mental pep talks; convincing myself it will be fun (I have no doubt it will be). But the scary reality is: I still cry at the drop of a hat, with no forewarning. As those crying jags have (finally) become less frequent, they also have become more potent, more of an ugly cry each time, instead of tears simply leaking from my eyes nearly every moment of every day.
I’m also afraid to go on long trips by myself right now, where I will be alone with my own thoughts for hours on end. I hate crying in front of anyone, let alone strangers. I don’t mind being the center of attention, but only when that attention is positive. Having everyone focus on me because of my uncontrolled grief is not my idea of a good time.
So I made the difficult decision to cancel. I’m just not ready. I can hide behind my keyboard and usually put on a brave face—sometimes even cheerful and/or funny face—but I am afraid I cannot do it in person. Not yet. I will get there, I know. As a dear friend pointed out to me, it is not in my nature to be miserable. Eventually, the good days will far outweigh the bad ones. But right now, that isn’t the case, and this convention is only a week and a half away, and I know that is not enough time to find my former self again—or at least some semblance of who I once was.
I’m sorry I will miss it. I know it will be a fabulous event, and I fully expect to, at least on some level, regret my decision not to go. But right now I feel only relief that I do not have to try to do something I’m not ready to do yet.
And that’s okay.
Tami Lund is an author, wine drinker, writer of happily ever afters, and sometimes depressing blog posts. Despite the blog posts, there are still plenty of happily ever afters over on her website, www.tamilund.com.