Days go by until days become weeks and weeks become a month. I’ve spent most of this last month writing hard on my BattleTech: Ghost Hour novel and mostly avoiding the internet. Now that I can see the end of it—four or five scenes left—I can say this novel isn’t going to be the death of me. But, I gotta tell you, it was a hard book to write. Mostly because of the circumstances in my life. I really hope Crimson Night goes easier. (Note: I finished the novel before I managed to post this blog post. :) )
I still think of my Dad a lot. I think of John, too. Less often though. John and I didn’t have a complicated relationship. We were writers, gamers, and dreamers. We had a lot in common—married, with pets, book collections, mutual friends. It was a good relationship. My Dad and me, the relationship was a lot more complicated and messy. But, I find myself thinking mostly of the good things about him these days. It makes things easier somehow.
For the first time in a long time, I’m going to spend Thanksgiving and my birthday with my mom. (Like a decade for Thanksgiving that I can remember, and longer than that for my birthday.) I’m going to help her with some house stuff. And, I think, since I’m staying with her, it’ll be a good visit to reconnect with her. (I still say “my parents’ stuff” about a lot of things and have to remember to change it to “my mom’s” thing.) It’s going to be mostly me, mom, and my sister. I’m looking forward to it.
The Husband won’t be coming with me. He’s got the cats, the house, and a couple of appointments to deal with in my absence. We’ve realized that this forthcoming trip is going to be the longest he and I have spent apart since we before we got married. I’m going to miss him. I know it. We’ll have Skype and Discord, and texting. But, I will miss him. And the kitties—who will believe I have abandoned them forevermore, I’m sure.
I think the visit is going to be a good life break. I’ll turn in Ghost Hour before I leave. I’ll get it back after I get home. My wrists will have gotten a break. So will my mind. Part of me has grand plans to write the rough of a novella while I’m in North Carolina. Part me of me has grand plans of sleeping a lot. We’ll see what actually happens. I suspect a little of column A and a little from column B. After all, the novella is already outlined.
We had another small tragedy in the last week. An abandoned kitten that Seanan was taking care of died. Nature sucks. It’s true. I’m sad about the kitten. She had a lot of life in her. I’m sad for Seanan. The whole situation was harder than it should’ve been…and I have nowhere to put this free floating anger that won’t hurt someone I care about. So, I’ve got to deal with it another way. Still working that one out, too.
Right now, I’m working to keep on keeping on. The staying calm part isn’t working so well, but I’m managing. Grief sucks, but little by little I get better. Baby steps.
I have an earworm because of this blog’s title: “Days Go By” – Dirty Vegas. You can have it, too.
John A. Pitts AKA author J.A. Pitts has died of “amyloidosis of the heart”—an f’d up gene mutation that has no cure. I knew he was sick. I didn’t realize how sick until he reached out to a mutual friend and asked him to tell me so I could contact him. At the time, he had “six weeks” left to live. I’d planned to visit and tell him the whole story of the Rogue Academy trilogy. He loved BattleTech and my stories. Three days later he died.
I didn’t get to visit but I did get to text, to tell him how much he meant to me, and that I loved him. At least I got to do that. It’s hard telling people you love how much they mean to you when you know you’re telling them good-bye. I’ve done that twice now in the last six months. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. You have that tiny bit of closure to hold onto.
John (along with Jay Lake and Seanan McGuire) was pretty much my welcome wagon into the non-RPG publishing industry. I met him casually at Norwescon a couple of times. But I got to know him at the Rainforest Writers Retreat in 2010. Black Blade Blues was about to be released and he was nervous. He told me once, years later, that he was always nervous about a book release.
John exemplified one of my own personal mottos when it comes to the publishing industry: “Share the love.” Publishing is not a zero sum game. It’s a small world and, eventually, you will work with a lot of people—including your heroes. John always had a good word and an open ear to any writer he met. He was good about contacting me out of the blue, just to see how I was doing.
In my last face-to-face conversation with him, he asked me if I regretted not doing something due to my father’s illness and death. I told him no, because I hadn’t planned on doing that, I was going to do something else. I admitted to not handling my father’s death as well as I had wanted to. I think it was one of the reasons he didn’t tell me then and there how bad things were for him. He didn’t want to burden me with another impending death. That was how John was; always thinking about those around him first.
There are many things from our last text and face-to-face conversations that make sense in retrospect. Questions he asked me. Things we talked about. I will miss his messages, his hugs, and his advice. John was one in a million and I’m damned lucky to have known him. Also, I’m so very sad that memories are all I have left.
Good-bye my friend. I love you.
North Carolina was hot and humid and generally awful to Seattlite me. Good things and bad happened; more good than bad, all things considered.
Dad’s memorial was 90% good and 10% awful. I enjoyed and appreciated everything that John (BIL), Shannon (sister), and Pastor Stan (former pastor) said and did. I think those parts of the service were a memorial worthy of Dad.
Unfortunately, the “new” pastor—he’s been there 3 years and I still can’t remember his name—took a religiously myopic view of the service, turning the memorial into a sermon without any regard for the friends and family of differing faiths that my father had.
I mentioned this to Mom a couple days later. I’m glad she likes him, he is her pastor after all, but I think he really needs to rethink his process for future funerals/memorials.
Basically, he preached that Dad was baptized at 50, thus saved…and any of you heathens out there, that aren’t saved in the proper manner, won’t see him again unless you convert to the one true way. Of course, the words were prettied up, and backed by an odd reading about the centurion who wanted his servant healed…and how he was a military man who understood he wasn’t worthy. I think the pastor chose this reading because he really didn’t know Dad. He was a man who had left the military over 30 years ago and often didn’t want to talk or think about that time in his life.
It was almost as if the pastor didn’t actually know what a funeral was for or that people of different faiths might attend…like the Muslim woman who was one of Dad’s longest friends from when he first came to North Carolina. Much less the different Christian and non-Christian faiths that were represented. Mostly, I wish it had been a funeral rather than a sermon. Instead of being soothed, I walked away irritated, feeling unwelcome, and not charitable towards that church. It’s an unfortunate memory to carry with me from my Dad’s memorial.
Mom was brave throughout the memorial and only cried through Taps. She says she isn’t a strong woman. I guess she’s got enough stubbornness, persistence, and willpower to fake it. I think my relationship with Mom has leveled up in some undefinable way. We talked and laughed and remembered together. For the first time, I really worried about leaving her to go home and understood the stereotypical meme of wanting Mom to move in.
I think my relationship with my sister also leveled up. The day after the memorial was done, Shannon gave herself permission to fall apart. At one point, she started crying and said, “I need my sister.” I hugged her and pet her hair. We’ve talked more in the last few months than in the last few years. I think we’ll keep it up.
The Husband was a rock through this whole thing. He was ready to help out, move things, and run-go-fetch at a moment’s notice. He also was happy to sit there in companionable silence. I appreciated that so much. So did Mom.
Grief has not been kind to my writing career. I’m months late on the next BattleTech novel. My editor knows and understands. I’m going to spend some time at the ocean by myself in a private writing retreat where I can work and cry and re-center myself in the new normal that my world has become. Life goes on for those of us who are still living. I know my grieving isn’t over but I hope after my retreat, it will mostly be at peace.