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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Back from the Dead

Dear followers, it's been too long. But I'm not dead, and am now resurfacing from a very nasty stretch of personal turmoil... here's proof that I am still among the living:

After the annual Stratford Swan Parade on April 12, 2015.

Thanks for reading this. I wouldn't blame you for totally giving up on me-- I nearly did myself. I am horrified to see that my last blog post was back in July!!! I don't really want to go over every detail and revisit all of my interim anguish at this point in time, but in a nutshell? My 2014 sucked the hind teat of a particularly sadistic hellhound bitch.

The Reader's Digest  condensed version of events: I was finding my footing in a full-time job after working at home for years. I found myself at the end of a long-term relationship. My elderly parents were both struggling with dementia and other ailments, and my family was in agonies over how best to help them. My own health was up and down. And just as my three brothers and I had our hands forced by circumstances that saw our dear Mom put into long term care, my eldest brother Chris was diagnosed with leukaemia-- and was suddenly in a coma at death's door.

I think that's where I left you hanging. I am sorry.

This has been a shitty time, and I needed to retreat and deal with the succession of blows. My writing all but stopped. Somehow I was hanging in at work, and trying to do what I could for the family from a helpless distance. My days consisted of rising from a fitful sleep, putting in a full day at the Stratford Festival offices, rushing home to make and field phone calls and emails with relatives, the Alzheimer's Society and health care workers, then fixing and eating a solitary dinner before falling into bed as a ragged shadow of myself at the end of the night. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Relentlessly.


Chris showing evident pride and affection for his cadets.

Chris rallied briefly, surprising us all by emerging from the coma with the disease at bay and his mind sharp and strong. He always was a determined fighter, but his body was weakened by this tough battle. Shortly after we'd moved Dad into the same care facility as Mom, Chris died in early December. He was the golden child of the family, and had lived the best of lives-- and we celebrated that as we said goodbye: remembering his love of his wife and his dogs; his adoration of books, music, history and golf; his career with the RCMP; his law studies; his obsession with flight (he could fly a plane before he could drive a car!) and his recent dedication to leadership with the Air Cadets. A remarkable group of young cadets stood as his Honour Guards, and faultlessly folded and presented the flag to his widow, Louise. It was a difficult farewell, but a noble one-- as befit the man.

As we were all still stumbling around in shock, the next blow came when my father died ten days later. Ours was a difficult relationship, but the loss of a parent is an event of mythological proportion in anyone's life. It is the end of an era. I can at least be glad that I had managed to set aside a lifetime of anger and hurt, and tried my best to just help him toward the end of his life. I feel I succeeded in reaching a kind of reparation.

Dad displaying his own father's WWI service medals and badges.

And at the very end of the year from Hell, I finished with my full-time job-- the position having been eliminated due to internal shuffling and reordering. It wasn't that I'd done anything wrong, they assured me. That's just the way my luck went in the bloody awful year of 2014.

Understandably, I was in a damned dark mood these past few months. But I am back.

I have been writing. Submitting short stories to anthology calls and competitions. Zeroing in on the end of the long-awaited first draft of book one of my Dead Drunk series, In The Bag, and being slammed with ideas for other new writing... including another novel that seemed to drop all at once into my lap from out of the ether. I am part of a new and vibrant women's writing group here in Stratford. I'm even doing some acting again after 15 years... a tiny part in a staged reading of a dramatic adaptation of Deborah Ellis's pivotal novel, The Breadwinner!the-breadwinner/c1vv3. Today, I went to a splendid writing workshop with Canadian horror master, Andew Pyper, and a reading from his new book, The Damned. I have a lot of inspiration and spark to get back at it.

I feel ready to take life on again. I've had quite enough of death.