Archive | June, 2011

A Father’s Guiding Love

18 Jun
I will forever love both of my parents equally and with all of my heart, but I am not ashamed to admit that when I was a little girl, I secretly wanted to marry my daddy. He was the perfect man—kind, loving, attentive, strong—my knight in shining armor with a moustache and a quirky sense of humor. Whenever he held my hand in his, he made me invincible.
As my hand grew incrementally bigger in his grasp, our arms seemed to stretch. My world became more expansive, my opinions more my own. The distance between us alternately widened and narrowed, like opposing banks of a winding, lazy river. Some days he was a little less my hero and a little more the guy with too many rules, placing too many restrictions on my freedom, clipping my wings and driving me crazy with advice that I didn’t want, didn’t need, and refused to listen to. 
I loved him. I hated him. I was embarrassed by him. I was amazed by him. I ignored him one second, and drove him nearly to insanity with relentless chatter the next. I wanted to be nothing like him and exactly like him all at once. As the years slipped by, I discovered he was flawed, wounded, imperfectly-human. And then I realized that I was as well. 
The only constant was his unconditional love for me. If I called for him, he was there—our opposite banks merging into one where the choppy waters could pool for a little while, warming in the sun, resting for a bit, gathering strength and direction before continuing its journey downstream toward the next uncertain bend in life.
When I grew up, I didn’t marry my daddy, but I came pretty close. My husband is kind, loving, attentive and strong—my handsome knight in camouflaged armor with a laugh that makes me smile. He is everything I dreamed of as a little girl, and infinitely more. The day that my dad died, my lazy river instantly transformed into a raging waterfall, pouring into a vast, lonely, shore-less ocean. My husband became my rock—that solid strength that held me up, preventing me from drowning as I floundered, desperately searching for that missing bank that I would never rest upon again. 
Because of my husband’s resolute strength, my waters calmed and I survived. Together we have formed our own sturdy riverbank, unified as we run alongside the banks of our two boys, charting the waters of life together. Like all the rivers that came before, sometimes our shores are close enough to hop across, but sometimes the embankments are rocky and steep, the distance between so wide it seems an impossible feat to cross from one to the other. They love us, they hate us. They want to be nothing like us when they grow up, but strive to be the best of who we are. 
Like my dad’s was for me, and his father’s still is for him, my husband’s love for our boys is unwavering. Whenever they call, he is there—comforting them, advising them, encouraging them, loving them—allowing the river of emotions of life to calm as they warm in the sun for a brief, glorious moment before he gently nudges them on downstream, guiding them toward their future.

A Pause Between Chapters

8 Jun

A pastor once told me that every time she sits down to write—whether for her Sunday sermon or her monthly letter to the congregation in the church newsletter—she feels as though she is having a baby. She’s not referring to the pain and agony of childbirth, though writing can be quite agonizing at times. Instead, she is speaking of the beauty of creation itself—the art of pulling together random thoughts and musing, little personal bits of herself and her beliefs, and transforming them into something inspirational that she felt confident enough to send out into the world.

As I sit here today, in a state of uncertainty and anxiety, my mind continually wanders back to her statement, and I see the truth in it. Writing is exactly like having a baby. If writing is giving birth, then editing must be the tedious but surprisingly magical experience of raising that child… correcting and tweaking, molding and sculpting, knowing when to let go or when to press on and develop that glimpse of an idea that’s not quite right but has the potential to be brilliant… all of it parallel to joys, surprises and occasional heartache of child-rearing.

And then, just when you know that child better than you know yourself, when his features and idiosyncrasies are so firmly embedded into your heart—your very soul—that you bolt upright from a dead, exhausted sleep at that intake of air before the first hint of a cry… you blink and he’s all grown up. His bags are packed and he’s out the door… and he doesn’t look back.

He has just been published… so, what do you do now?

That is the crossroads I find myself at today. My first book is published, my firstborn off to college, so to speak, and I’m suffering from a hint of the empty-nest syndrome every parent must feel at one point in their life. I long to waste my days away fretting over sales, or reading reviews from perfect strangers—people who have never met my child before, people who did not bear witness to the incremental changes in his character over time, the gentle nudges and encouragements that have sculpted him into who he is today. Will they like him? Will they be forgiving? Will they look beyond the surface, past the occasional hiccup or stutter, and take the time to truly learn his heart?

I have faith that they will.

Sitting in front of me now is my first copy of my first edition and I indulge in the lingering smile on my face, the swell in my heart, that giddy feeling of Christmas morning. This real, tangible, object is here, sitting before me, because I created it. I know there are other children at various stages of childhood—ranging from infancy to adolescence—languishing in my hard-drive, vying for their turn at a little one-on-one time with Mom so that they, too, may one day reach their full potential. And there are countless more creations formulating in my mind, currently nothing more than the first word of a first line or particular shade of steel-grey eyes that some day may become the signature feature of a man or a child, a hero or a villain. I know I’ll get to them soon, as well.

But first, for one last, self-indulgent moment, I want to sit here with a cup of coffee and listen to the quiet of the house around me, the keys on my keyboard still, while I read random lines on random pages of my first published work and reminisce.