Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, SoCS, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing prompts, Writing Sample

Marriage Metamorphized with Metastasis: #SoCS and #atozchallenge Day 13

Anywhere in Sickness

Monsters in the closet and under the bed

Monsters can lurk almost anywhere

Anywhere we imagine them with our fears

Anywhere in the body where they can grow rampant

Rampant cells divide and multiply and divide again

Rampant growth consuming what was healthy and strong

Strong as his body and strong as our mature love

Love that slew every monster that came

Love that wrapped us in armor of everyday magic

Magic that put wonder into simple things

Magic we counted on in our darkest days

Days with little money and worries to spare

Days when rainbows and birdsong filled our lives

Lives shared with happiness and sometimes frustration

Lives made richer when we two became one

One home one bed one path tread by four feet

One purpose in the life we shared

Shared coffee and meals and arguments and joys

Shared a little more than two decades

Decades more we thought we’d have

Decades to grow even and ever more

More life and more business to attend to

More tears to shed and living to do

Do the things needed to raise our kids well

Do what we needed to embrace our own dreams

Dreams postponed while the kids were small

Dreams that were taking on more concrete shape

Shape of a future we never will live

Shape of a tumor-monster that killed

Killed my husband of twenty years

Killed my children’s loving silly dad

Dad and husband strong and solid

Dad snuffed out by that greedy cancer

Cancer ever hungry could never get enough

Cancer swelled and sucked away energy

Energy and strength all given to the monster

Energy gone and marriage metamorphized

Metamorphized as the cancer metastasized

Metastasized from pancreas to liver

Metastasized with deadly speed

Speed of the change from being his partner

Speed of the change to become caretaker

Caretaker a job that I never expected

Caretaker a function I served as my honor

Honor the vow I took twenty long years ago

Honor the vow of in health and in sickness

Sickness that made of him a man in grave need

Sickness tended my final wifely service

Service

Need

 

I actually wrote this poem early in the day, but then had plans that kept me away most of the rest of the day. Now, though I’m feeling so tired it’s hard to type, I’m here, because I’ve made it before midnight all week, and don’t want to blow the streak…

Marriage changes when a spouse is terminally ill. The growing infirmity shifts the partnership relationship to one of caretaker and tended. When the disease progresses as swiftly as Jim’s did, the changes can come at a truly dizzying pace.

It was exhausting, often frustrating, and consumed my time much like caring for a newborn in reverse. It became, in the last couple of weeks, almost impossible to know how my days would pass. Things we’d thought, in the beginning, we’d be able to see to together, became things I’m still dealing with three months after his death.

There were times I sobbed in sheer hopelessness at all the things that needed my attention, and the grinding fatigue as they piled up, no matter how much effort I expended…I was also angry with him, sometimes, for the things he might have done when he was well, but didn’t, even when I asked.

Maybe it was a form of grieving, and of dealing with the monster growing unchecked in my beloved’s vital organs.

But, through it all, I was honored to be able to do this for him, however imperfectly. I knew it was the last service I could do for him directly, and, after all, I didn’t promise to just be with him when things were good and he could do for himself…but in sickness, as well as health, to death did us part.

This post does double-duty for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, where the prompt is “mon” as a word or part of one. You can find more SoCS posts here.

And come on back Monday, when we experience No More of So Much….

Looking for more M posts?

The journey of a marriage, in one poignant song. I’ve loved it for years, but now it has new meaning…

Posted in Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, CampNaNoWriMo, Challenges and Contests, JuNoWriMo, Life Writing, Parenting, slices of life, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing

“I’ve Got a Lot of Work to Do”

So says Trip Tucker, from Star Trek: Enterprise.

I can relate.

Everything I want to get done is all bunched up together. It’s been that way for me for months now – first it was my seemingly ever-increasing role in Jim’s nascent hot-sauce business while attempting, at the same time, to move my own writing career to the next logical level. Then it was Jim’s illness, and attempting to care for him as his condition deteriorated while at the same time preparing the kids and I for a life without him.

Time bunches together; it seems nearly impossible that the entire process of dying was encompassed in a day less than two months – leaving my head spinning, with a bunch of what I’d intended to accomplish still left undone as those last weeks brought a rapid, crashing decline that began with the literal crash of Jim’s body hitting the dining room floor when he could no longer reliably locomote.

And then he was gone – and it was like the bunches of undone tasks were breeding like tribbles – a new litter every few hours, and no concerns whatever for things like inbreeding…

I feel like I’ve been scrambling for a long time, trying to find the right blend that lets me address all the things left undone when Jim died – like that life insurance policy I never found, so had to do an end run by finding the withdrawal on our bank statement and going from there – and those things that move our family life, each of the kids’ growth, and my own professional and personal development further…

I’m still scrambling.

But the life insurance claim has finally been submitted, two and a half months after Jim’s death. Last night, I filed our income taxes. I’ve helped the kids connect with their far-flung friends, and there are more plans. As spring blooms, I’m cleaning, decluttering, and planning for some desperately needed home improvements. Jim was going to do these – but that didn’t happen, so I need new plans.

Planning my goals for the next quarter is among the bunch of things I still want to finish before a new month dawns at midnight (not literally – literal dawn will take another few hours).

And when that dawn comes…

I’ll be embarking on two new writing challenges, and the first of four months of intensive writing pursuits:

I’m far less prepared for this than I normally an. For my April project, I’m working on finishing a novel I began last April. I’m not quite halfway in rereading, as I type this, and I haven’t even glanced at my outline. I’m hoping to do both before midnight – but I have to accept that I might have to choose between winging it, or waiting to start writing till I’ve caught up…

I only have a rough idea where I want the A-Z posts to go, when I prefer to write them ahead of time, revise, and schedule all before April starts.

And, in the midst of all this, I still have two major and one minor writing course I’m in the middle of…

Yup…

It’s a bunch.

It could be stressful if I chose to be stressed.

Instead, I’m trying for a different approach. Rather than trying to force myself to do everything perfectly and to completion, I’m going to see it as more experimental. Can I begin from where I am, and move forward without indulging in insane amounts of stress? Can I focus on growth, passion, and the joy of creation? Can I find the balance point between all the many aspects of a transitioning life, and ride it like a wave, or will I end up choking on a bunch of sea foam?

Only time will tell….

This bunch of words is my entry for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “bun,” used however we wish. Wade in yourself – the water’s fine!

Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Life Writing, slices of life, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing prompts, Writing Sample

So Far for #SoCS: Stream of Consciousness…Sunday?

So far….

So far, it’s been not quite two months since Jim died.

So far, the kids and I are all right.

So far, I still don’t know how I’m going to get the roof, ceilings, and floors repaired.

So far, I haven’t quite managed to file the life insurance claim.

So far, I’ve done a little cooking, but not as much as I would like.

So far, there’s far more to be done than there is me to do it.

So far, I’ve started reclaiming my bedroom, but I’m still not quite in the habit of using my new workstation with the dual monitors, because I have such a long history of sitting on my bed with my laptop – which is just what I’m doing right now.

So far, I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the reality of Jim’s death.

So far, I’m keeping things mostly together, even if the garbage didn’t get picked up last week because I didn’t get that bill paid in time.

So far, we’re making plans a few months ahead, and dreaming a bit further.

So far…to go, and so far from where we were a year ago, when we couldn’t see any of this coming, when Jim and I thought we’d grow old together, in some time that was still so far away.

**

This Stream of Consciousness Saturday post was brought to you by the prompt “so far.” Check out other posts, or submit your own!

I miss this face…and the man it belonged to.
Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Life Writing, Parenting, slices of life, SoCS, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekend Coffee Share

Redefine for #SoCS/#WeekendCoffeeShare

 

If we were having coffee, I’d be reminiscing about life.  Over the last year or so, my life has changed in so many ways I still feel like I’m trying to wrap my head around the simple facts of it, let alone the scope of the implications.

The most obvious change is my husband’s death of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer on January 12. He was officially diagnosed on November 13, 2017 – so those not-quite 2 months were clearly the seismic shift that ended with finality with his death.

But cancer, even aggressive kinds, doesn’t happen in a sudden flash. Jim hadn’t felt great for a few months before a painful swollen leg sent him to the doctor, then the emergency room, then a diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis that led to the discovery of the tumor on his liver…

A tumor that had been just a spot way back on August 24, when it was spotted on another emergency room ultrasound, when we thought the pain in his abdomen might be appendicitis, so went the night after our 20th anniversary, when we’d gone out to an oyster bar and feasted on rich foods we usually don’t indulge in. That spot, which would kill him not 6 months later, was suspected of being fatty liver disease, and Jim was so sure that’s what it was, he didn’t follow up with his primary care doctor.

Since she couldn’t have saved him, even then, I think maybe it was for the best that he didn’t, because we had those months of relative ignorance, and even though Jim wasn’t feeling especially well, those were charmed months.

It was during this time when Jim’s hot sauce business – a dream he had way back when we first met – really started to take off. We worked farmer’s markets and events, met lots of people, and Jim got to share his passion and see the expressions of the people who tried and loved his creations. He didn’t have a lot of energy, but we had a lot of fun, and I picked up a lot of slack…which means I was pretty exhausted and overwhelmed, though happy to be helping him realize a dream.

While we were so busy, we were also neglecting some things in and around the house, because there just wasn’t time or energy to get to them.

And that’s where I am right now  – with a roof in desperate need of replacing, with bathroom and kitchen floors that aren’t far behind, and ceilings in the wings that have leaked and need patching.

And Jim was the handy one…

During the time between his diagnosis and death, we talked about many improvements we might make. We’d been shopping for a sectional sofa – our son, at 16, is about 6’3”, and our 13 year old daughter is closing in on my 5’9, so more space was indicated. We had a budget and a style in mind, but hadn’t found the perfect unit yet.

Since Jim died, I’ve been giving these things some thought – but the death of a spouse comes with a lot of immediacy – things that need to be done, children who need tending, dishes and laundry, sleeping and eating and absorbing.

A candid couple moment at the playground, September 2013.

It’s interesting, and sometimes very overwhelming, the way the new ideas are creeping in around the edges and through the middle of other things I’m doing.

It feels a bit like cheating on Jim when I realize I can change the budget for the sectional, and get the ottoman he didn’t like but the kids and I do; or when I changed our bedroom to be my bedroom, with a large corner workstation and a far more feminine flair – and, as happened earlier today, I realize that I want to replace the large and heavy bed, built like a miniature house with 4×4 inch posts, with something we didn’t share – and that the bed frame, which is incredibly heavy and was built in this room, is the perfect size and shape to frame the woodshed I dreamed of putting by the door, so we can get to our firewood easily, and without braving the elements to do it.

It feels like cheating…and it doesn’t. Jim is dead, even though my heart and soul don’t want to accept that fact, and I need to redefine my life if I am to move forward -as a mother, and as a person. Everything I do won’t be what I would have done, if Jim was still alive, and I was still his wife, and not his widow. But my role has been redefined, and so I need to redefine to thrive…

So I will move through the process – and maybe, one day, it will feel natural and fine.

Join us at Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is the word “fine” – with bonus points for ending with that word.

Pop on over to #weekendcoffeeshare for more weekending fun!

Posted in #weekendcoffeeshare, Life Writing, Parenting, slices of life, SoCS, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekend Coffee Share, Weekly Features

Portals and Perspectives for #SoCS and #WeekendCoffeeShare

 

This week, I walked through many doors. Some, I walk through every day, or nearly so – doorways into the rooms of my home, and into the house proper. In nearly every one of those spaces, I’ve seen things I want to do – projects that have been waiting, and new ones just conceived. But I also see things I have already done – progress made.

Progress is important to me, just now – more so than it once was. Each project conceived and carried through to completion represents a step along the transitional journey from wife to widow…from being half of the homeowning team to the one who makes the choices.

There’s sorrow in some of these changes, and, paradoxically, there’s also liberation and joy. That feels strange; I was not a prisoner in my marriage, and my husband wasn’t the domineering or controlling type. But he was himself, set in his cluttered, comfortable-for-him-but-not-always-for-me ways, and, in the name of family harmony, I accepted more than I wanted.

Moving through these doors, and occupying these spaces in a new and more active way, is part of my becoming something more than I’ve been, and reclaiming my home, my spaces, my present, and my future – for myself, and for the kids…but, in so many ways, more for me, because my teens will be growing into their own adult lives, and will eventually be moving on into places and spaces of their own.

I haven’t walked through the refrigerator door, but I’ve opened it to new possibilities. It’s been many years since I’ve made anything close to a regular practice of cooking. I married a chef, after all. Now, though, there are Plated meal kits in the fridge, a gift from some wonderful writing friends, and I am exploring new techniques, flavor palettes, and working the preparations into my life.

This week, I’ve been in and out of car doors. There was a trip for groceries, and another with the kids to a local restaurant, where we honored Jim’s birthday by taking his motto to heart and eating dessert first. Jeremiah and I also went to Best Buy, where I picked up my long-needed new printer, a far more usable keyboard for my desktop computer, and some items he needs to indulge his new interest in creating live stream videos. I also priced what I hope may be my next phone – I want to upgrade and pass my current one on to Miah, who will likely have his license by the end of spring, and whose current phone is old enough to be all but obsolete. I want him to have something more reliable when he’s alone behind the wheel.

Through my television, I’ve entered many other doors. Doors into other people’s homes; I’ve been watching a lot of home improvement programming – This Old House, Fixer-Upper, and lots of flip shows. I’m not contemplating a career change, but I wasn’t the handy spouse, and I have a great many things I need to learn to maintain my home, and improve it. In that, there will be a new independence and sense of ownership. As I watch, I’m seeing new possibilities, as I see our spaces in new ways. I decided I want to redo the front walkway – it’s not attractive or as useful as it could be, and it’s where it is because it was there when we moved here 16 years ago this month. I’m seeing the potential for more workable changes, and starting to believe that I can enact them.

There’s one last doorway I’ve been passing through – the one that leads to my passion for writing. I was reminded of King of Shreds and Patches, a 535 page Star Trek/Star Trek: Enterprise crossover fan fiction novel I drafted a few years back.  The story is still in rough draft form, but it’s better than I remembered, and I got that wonderful, “Wow! Did I really write this?!” feeling in many places. I’m excited to get to the point where I can revise it and offer it up to people who will enjoy it.

That’s a lot of doors for one week – now, it’s your turn! W

What doors have you passed through, or passed by, this week? What did the doors you entered add to your life?

Posted in Life Writing, Parenting, Short Stories, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

Fairy Tales for #SoCS, February 10, 2018

“Hey, you little maniac! Stop biting the dog’s tail and get your ass over here!”

My throat is paying me back for all the screaming I’ve done tonight, but Finlay doesn’t even seem to hear me. Or, if she does, she’s flat-out ignoring me.

I wonder for a second whether wishing the dog was less good-natured about being chewed on makes me a terrible mother. But I don’t have time to follow through -we’re already fifteen minutes late for the baby’s doctor’s appointment, and his cough sounds croupy.

I shake Fin’s at her, but she keeps on chewing on Rascal’s tail as though I don’t even exist.

She’s going to make me come after her.

I take one step, trip over her shoe, and fall flat on my face. I open my eyes and I see a book – Fairy Tales for Little Princesses.

**

This post is serving double duty – something I’m doing as often as I can in these days where I am both navigating a path forward for my two teens and I, while at the same time negotiating  the reams of administrative details that go along with Jim’s illness and death.

As for this little passage, it’s both my entry into this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where the prompt is tale/tail; and the rough draft of a story start for Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck workshop. I’ll be revising this bit and eventually expand it into a complete tiny story of about 500 words…

But, for now, this is all there is to it, and, since that can soon be said of today, as well, I’m going to wrap this post up before Saturday shows me its tail, and I end up telling you all a tale of woe tomorrow.

Until next week, may you be well, and all your tales be happy ones that – well, set your tail to wagging!*

*#sorrynotsorry!


Gently down the Stream of Consciousness….

 

Posted in Enterprise fan fiction, Fan fiction, Flash Fiction Pieces, slices of life, SoCS, Star Trek: Enterprise, The IDIC Romance, Weekly Features, writing, Writing in Freedom, writing prompts, Writing Sample

A Gift From the Ocean: #SoCS for 1/20/18

Hello there, and welcome to

Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  

It’s been several weeks since I made it here. From the time my husband was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer on November 13, life became more and more about his illness and impending death, and all the millions of details that needed tending.

I’d like to say we had everything done when he died on January 12 – but I would be lying. In many ways, I will be digging us out and flying by the seat of my pants for quite some time to come, it seems.

But it’s been more than a week since Jim’s death, and I do have a better handle on where we are and what comes next, at least in the short term.  I’ve found that returning to some of my former routines helps, and so here I am, in the later part of Saturday, to share my first #SoCS post of a trying new year.  This week’s prompt was to use a word that begins with the letters “oc” – with bonus points for starting and ending with appropriate words.

As always, the standard disclaimer applies. I don’t own the characters in my fanfiction, and I earn no money for these stories. Simply a gift of love…

A Gift From the Ocean

“Oc -a -tee- oh?” Trip wiped away the delighted smile; his companion had been touchy just lately, and he’d come here to try to get on her good side…

Or into her bed, if she’d even consider that.

Probably wasn’t very logical.

T’Pol made some tiny shift in the muscles of her face, and let out her breath a hair too fast and forcefully. Sure signs of Vulcan impatience; he’d let himself get distracted by her.

Again.

“Ocotillo,” he told her, making his voice distinct and a touch slower than normal, without making any comment at all about the way she’d butchered the word. “It’s got other names – Flaming Sword, for one. I kind of like that, but I’ll bet you’d rather call it candlewood.”

“That nomenclature is illogical.” But she was stroking one of the flowers very gently, so maybe there was room in there somewhere for human fancies. She popped the bubble with her next words, though. “What is its genus species identification?”

“Fouquieria splendens.” He had a feeling that he’d made as big a mess of the Latin as she had the Spanish. But T’Pol had better manners than to point it out. She simply nodded, and Trip settled in on her bench, where he could watch the rare show of T’Pol enjoying the plant – as a scientist and a woman, at the same time.

He smiled when she set the pot down on her little meditation table. “Thank you,” she said simply.

“I thought you might like it. It’s one of your colors, after all, and it’s a desert plant, after all.” He didn’t mention that it was also both lovely and prickly, kind of like a Vulcan scientist. He wasn’t sure how she would take that.

“Take off your shirt. You arrived late, and nearly three minutes has been wasted in this discussion.”

He could be disappointed in how short-lived her interest was, but these neuropressure sessions with her were the high point of his day. She warmed her hands, and he stripped out of his shirt, shivering just a bit at the spicy-smoky scent in the air and the thought of her amazing fingers on his bare skin…

Was it just his imagination that she looked forward to it, too? That her fingers trembled just the tiniest bit when she touched him? She had started letting him try out what she showed him on her, and, when he did, he thought her body quivered, too, low and deep inside her.

Did all that add up to attraction? Or desire?

He just didn’t know.

But, as T’Pol’s fingers played a symphony with his nerves, and Trip relaxed more and more into the touch, and her quiet candlelit nest, he noticed that she kept pausing to look over at the little potted ocotillo plant, and her touch would feather across his skin for a second, before she settled back into the familiar pressure.

Trip Tucker was an engineer. He didn’t know yet what all that meant, but he knew it wasn’t just business, and he was willing to bet it meant that she liked the gift he’d brought her – the same way she’d liked the peaches he brought her last week. But was it the gifts – or the person bringing them? Did he mean anything to her, besides being a colleague in need of her assistance?

Well, he was an engineer, and he could find out. She liked the taste of peaches; maybe they reminded her of Vulcan fruit. She liked the octotillo, but that was a desert plant.

Next time, he was going to bring her something she couldn’t mistake for being from home. He was going to bring her a gift from the ocean.

Will Trip bring T’Pol a gift from the ocean?

If he does, how will she react?

Any guesses?

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G. Hill over at Life in Progress. Stop by and see this week’s entries, and maybe even add your own.