After nearly two years from beginning, my manuscript is brushing the rim of done, the first draft at least. The words are all written from start to finish. Re-editing looms and parts may be rearranged and reworked for clarity, but (and a huge conjunctive but it is) the manuscript awaits the transformative process of words and files into an actual book.
Quietly - slowly - and in the dark of night and the fog of shadows, life re-found, rebuilt and rediscovered in words and paper thin moments.
Less than two weeks ago now, I sat quietly at the ruggedly aged table where I wrote the last words that seem to appropriately echo the words that open the manuscript some 50,000 words earlier.
“My eyes open slowly, knowingly to a new world.”
Two years ago when I sat freshly wounded from the then still warm, pulsating memories of my wife’s death I was so lost and emptied, ravaged by such a blow, from death taking all that I measured didn’t belong to it. I started to write words that bled pain and suffering and confusion and doubt, memories that held happiness and good and reality broken in tragedy. Those words captured in my manuscript echoed out like prayers and hopeless tirades reaching for something to break the speed at which I felt the falling happening.
And God did find me. Over and over again, remade and strengthened in faithful frequency.
A new fortitude for life glowing on the horizon dawning emerged in His helping. Two lives pulled closer together - the good one I once knew and the better one now laying before me, tangled in difficulty and unknown. I’ve come to confess the life after my wife’s death better because in it God’s sweet grace causes even the most difficult of times to bow low and every impassable moment able to be crossed.
And this is the book that I have written, a story recounting life beautiful ending and another beginning eclipsing even the greatest moments of that once beautiful life. These days will always be loved the most.
Below is the opening of a chapter currently entitled, “Surely Goodness and Mercy.” It reflects the pulling together of both lives and fortitude only found in God’s ridiculous grace that found me so aptly.
I will not allow myself to be the man hollowed by pain, afraid of shadows and those things which lie in waiting. Life may indeed only seem to take from us, days, memories, happiness, but courage is mine to give. And the source, it is immeasurably and unfathomably deep. It is unending. Through darkened spots and failing strength, the reason -- or reasons -- for courage remains.
I saw a man alone, subdued by pain, frightened by the fear of all that may be some day and I quietly asked to never be that man. I can’t. I won’t. The man fumbling through fading memories like a thief clutching a leaking bag. The man stumbling, drunk on why things settled the way they did, talking to himself, mumbling angrily and hurt.
That will not be me. My daughters will not know this man. They might see me wince and wrestle to ground life haunting and yesterday hanging, but they will never know that kind of fully hollowed heart comfortable only in shadows. I may not have much greater to give them than that, but my healing will be an echo that resounds like bells of freedom in their warm little hearts.
And their little hearts will warm. Never could I leave us stranded roadside and stuck forever by the sourest of moments in life, an undoing reaching so deep into the fabric of who we were unraveling the strongest of loves, ours, sewn together by life’s untroubled waters and God’s goodness then.
Life was good then it ended in her death lessening us remaining, those who loved her most.
But the days continued. And they demanded to be lived.
Currently, I’m working out a deal for publishing and anticipate my book to be available maybe even as soon as mid-year. I say this with an undying happiness. There were so many days I thought it more worth quitting than completing. Little by little, in inches and through day by failing day what I once considered an audacious reach and grand wish has been pulled closer; two lives pulled closer together.