I wept yesterday.
Last week, we received a postage due envelope for the princely sum of $3.49 for a package from Catholic Central, the local parochial school. That's the school our children attended. Our older son, Matt, graduated from Catholic Central.
Yesterday, the package arrived. Curious, I opened it and saw handmade cards with short, sweet messages scrawled on folded copy paper by some children in the school's second grade class. Enclosed with the cards was a note from the assistant principal stating that the condolence cards were the product of the second grade's annual service project. The school inculcates community service to all its students, from volunteering at local food pantries to, apparently, expressions of sympathy.
The assistant principal likely remembers Matt, who graduated from Catholic Central in 2015. The second graders most certainly never met him.
I showed the cards and note to my husband. He wept, too.
As this horrible year marches on, we remember our son who died in January, we pine for his loss, and we pray for his peace. It helps to know that others pray for him, too, as well as for us. I am grateful for their prayers.
You've all seen a picture of it or done it: a person dipping a toe into the water to test its temperature. We do this when we're uncertain whether to proceed with an intended action. That uncertainty arises from anticipated discomfort.
I feel that way about writing now.
I still have stories in my head, but, for the most part, they don't stick. Like a flash of gold in a pan, the idea catches light then disappears never to be recaptured. I suppose I might take this as creativity beginning to bubble back up after its long hiatus. However, I don't know whether it will rise and fill the well again or whether it will seep out, unable to overcome the drain.
So, I'm not writing stories. Not yet, anyway.
I am writing articles. For some weird reason, writing nonfiction doesn't exhaust my mind like fiction now does. And I'm editing more and more: that's the side of my freelance business I've been working on, building.
I miss writing stories. I miss that excitement, that enthusiasm, that pleasure.
It's rather akin to how I miss riding. The past few years have not been kind to my equestrian enthusiasm. First, I retired my beloved Morgan mare. Then I made an incredibly poor decision in the purchase of a replacement horse. If you've read about my trials and travails with Diva, you know that bad history. (I did finally sell her in March.) Last year, I bought a kill pen pony, Teddy, who's coming along, but is showing some undesirable attitude: he bucks. He hasn't gone "bronco," but he has begun the last two rides (short, easy rides at the walk) with a buck. This cannot continue.
Granted, I'm not spending nearly as much time with him as I ought. The enthusiasm just isn't there. My friend Cindra has been tremendously helpful, practically injecting her enthusiasm into me by coming up to help me with him. A couple of other acquaintances have also offered, through Cindra, to assist with Teddy. I haven't taken them up on the offer.
So, recovery goes slowly and grief lingers. Mother's Day was difficult. My birthday was difficult. Father's Day next month will be emotional. For us, this is a year of dismal firsts: the first of everything after Matthew's death. It's a year that just hurts even as I am reminded to be grateful for the blessings I do have.
Be patient with me. Healing from tragedy takes a long, long time.
I completed a round of editing of a manuscript in 2018. Yesterday, the author contacted me. He informed me that over the past year his parents both passed away and that he'd published the first few chapters of his book on his website in honor of his father.
Frankly, I had to skim one of those posted chapters to refresh my memory. I'd forgotten the author's name, but scanning t the chapter helped me remember. Of course, my memory's rather like Swiss cheese these days: full of holes. The experts call it "grief brain."
I didn't reply to his message until I'd skimmed that chapter and recalled the book and the author's identity. Insert a sigh of relief here, because no one likes to think he or she is unworthy of remembrance. We all want to believe we're unforgettable. Cue Nat King Cole now.
The forgetfulness embarrassed me, but I have to be candid and admit it happened. At least, once reminded of the story, I did recall the client's story if not so much the client himself. That's a hazard when it comes to writing and editing: the story (fiction or nonfiction) takes precedence because the writer or editor focuses her attention, time, and energy on the content rather than the client.
I can't say the story is more important than the client, but the story definitely benefits from sharper recall than the client.
In reviewing the first chapter that I edited for this client, I see errors. Without making the effort to compare the edits made to the published content--because that would take more time and effort than I care to spend on unpaid work--I can't determine whether the errors are mine (I missed correcting them in editing) or whether the author rejected the correction and/or revised and published without having the content at least proofread. As I have shouted from the proverbial mountaintops, editing is not a one-and-done deal. Editors are human and make mistakes. They miss things. Revision changes things, from focus to meaning, which in turn may disturb the flow and order of the story.
Occasionally, a past client comes back to me. It's usually because that client liked the work I performed for him and wants to hire me again. Once or twice, the client requested revisions to something I'd written and the client had approved. I tend to be lenient in such circumstances, even though my contract states that I am not obligated to perform any additional work after approval or delivery of the content. This clause saves me from: 1) the obligation of unlimited revisions and 2) unpaid work. My lenience on such infrequent occasions results from a vendor's attempt to keep a client happy with a hope that the client will eventually hire me for future projects.
This particular client did inquire as to whether I'd be available to edit new chapters added to and heavily revised chapters in his manuscript. He made sure to compliment me first ("As I looked thru your edits, I’m amazed at how good of a job you did, thank you."), a tried and true tactic to get a vendor's favor and help secure my availability. Who doesn't like compliments?
I don't remember everything on which I work nor everyone with whom I work. However, when a blast from the past contacts me, I make my best effort to refresh my memory. If that person made the effort to recall who I am, then I can do no less.