But today she is somber. Yesterday, two events in her life collided. First, she attended a wake for the life partner of a beloved friend. The Matron didn't know the deceased well (who died instantly after suffering a sudden and unexpected heart attack) but loves the woman left behind. This was a vivid and visceral reminder that here is our future: soon, we will all be gone.
Second, she made and acted on a hard decision. Three or four months ago, the Matron was handed a book contract. An editor at a well-established publishing house (for academic and medical books -- don't think Random House) asked her to write a book on being an advocate for yourself and family in the medical system.
A book?!! Guaranteed publisher?! You bet!!
The Matron signed on, happily. By signing she means a bona fide contract.
But then she never started real work on the book. Sure, she toyed. She dabbled and dallied. Deliberated. But it became quickly clear that her heart was not in health care reform, insurance guidelines, and laws regarding patients' rights in 50 states (and don't forget Puerto Rico).
Time for the book--or the dalliance and drama-- was between 11 pm and 1 am. The quality of her already very busy life deteriorated. Much of her mental energy was spent worrying about a book she didn't care about or want to write. Within a couple of months she began also carrying the concerns of legal obligations: that contract!
After much soul searching ( really, what writer says no to a book?), yesterday, the Matron asked the publisher to release her from the contract -- which they did. With no legal obligations or backlash. Thank you!
For her entire life, the Matron has wanted to be a writer, to see lovely books with her name crowded on shelves in bookstores, and now, on web pages. But she learned a little something here. It is, without question, trite to say that life is short. But trite implies common knowledge, something that goes without saying. She was reminded of her own brevity yesterday as she held her sobbing friend and bid good-bye to a box of ashes. Dust to dust.
The series of events also reinforced one thing: chase the dream.
But a book on health care advocacy was not her dream.
Sure, she wants that crowded shelf, those readers. Yours truly isn't someone who writes for the pleasure of it (although it's pleasant) but to know that someone else is interacting with her work (thank you, blogger). But she also learned that good writing requires investment, passion, concern, care--and that it's time to focus on a project that incorporates all of these things instead of a project that feels like one more job.
So she said no to the book. She said good-bye to the beautiful life of her friend's partner, one of millions before him and millions ahead and fully appreciated that one day she would join him in being lost to history. And she turned toward where her spirit led her -- writing about life and raising the beloved children (who will also be gone one day)-- and said, yes.