Earlier this year I began work on a mystery/thriller novel. I created character sketches and bios. I filled up a corkboard with sticky notes describing key scenes and character arcs. I invested in Scrivener and learned enough about it to actually start using it. I wrote about 18,000 words.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Mom got sick. Real sick.
And the writing just didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. Nothing but helping mom.
Over two months, mom went from a fully functional, independent woman in her 70s to a hospital bed, to a rehab program, to a short-term rehab center, to a nursing home. She never made it to a hospice program because for some reason hospice said she didn’t qualify, even when the doctors only gave her two weeks to live.
My brothers and I were by her bedside almost constantly. When we weren’t by her side, we were taking care of the house, her dog, her bills, etc. We dealt with doctors, nurses, therapists, and a pushy social worker who kept reminding us that she was about to go on vacation so could we hurry up and get mom’s paperwork signed.
We immersed ourselves in online crash courses in Medicare, cancer, brain tumors, hospice, rehab facilities, nursing homes, radiation, chemo, oncologists, powers of attorney, living wills, and last wills and testaments. We took turns caring for her dog, who was more confused and alone than almost any of us.
On Aug. 17, Mom closed her eyes one last time.
We’re still grieving. We’re still dealing, each of us in our own ways.
But we all know we must soldier on. We all must pick up where we left off.
There’s work and there are bills.
There’s that thing called life.
Only, it’s not that easy.
In my case, I have to wonder: How do you return to a cast of characters and a storyline you left two months ago like nothing happened?
The story I started earlier this year seems so distant now, so pale in comparison to all that has transpired. The story seems only vaguely familiar, yet oddly unfamiliar after all this time. The characters seem like old friends, yet strangers at the same time.
Are they worth revisiting? Are they worth getting to know all over again?
Is the story worth finishing?
And if so, how do I begin to reacquaint myself with them? How do I pick up the pace, the flow of things, so that it feels fresh, yet natural? Like I’d never left them? Do I start over? Or do I pick up where I left off and just hope for the best?
I ask, but I already know the answer to my questions. I think I just had to write it here and make it official. To reaffirm my answer to myself, if nothing else.
I will carry on. I will write on. I will pick up where I left off. I will finish what I started.
It’s what Mom always taught me: Never give up.
I love you, Mom.