November got sidetracked by an emergency trip to Ohio, after my dad (who'd been in and out of the emergency room for weeks) was finally sent to the Cleveland Clinic. In Ohio, they didn't do the valve replacement that he needs, but the cardioplasty they did do got his heart functioning again enough that he is up and farming once more. I'm looking forward to having him visit California in a couple of weeks. He hasn't felt up to flying for several years.
In and around calling (and flying) home, I worked on This Morbid Life, a collection of 45 previously published and new personal essays. I first decided to assemble the book more than eight years ago, while I was confined to a hospital bed waiting for my daughter to be born prematurely. Last month, as I sat in a series of hospital waiting rooms in Cleveland, I proofread my pieces about visiting a cadaver lab, touring a mortuary school, and exploring a crematorium, among others.
Yes, the topics are morbid, but less than the situation in which I found myself. My dad had his first heart attack almost 20 years ago. Since then, I've lost both my grandmothers, a great aunt, and my younger brother. A very dear friend tested positive for HIV and together we nursed his husband until he died of AIDS. My dad's clock is ticking down and there's really only one way to stop it.
My life has been touched by death, but no more than most people's. Each loss, each health scare, each cemetery visited colors my life. Every sunny day seems sweeter. Every sunset is lovelier. Every word written is more precious. Life is succulent and beautiful because it is shadowed and finite. That's what my memoir is about.
Throughout November, I participated in Nanowrimo, although not for its intended purpose of creating 50,000 words of new fiction. I didn't need to start something new as much as I needed to finish something. Being able to track the word count on the Nanowrimo site every day was the carrot I needed to keep slogging through This Morbid Life -- even when I wanted to hide in a novel written by someone else.
The manuscript is off with my first reader now. I'm going to take December to finish something else, then it's time to polish This Morbid Life one last time and turn it loose into the world.
Maybe then I'll treat myself to writing something new.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports