Monday, September 26, 2016

Trying To Understand and Forgive Suicide

In my September 12, 2016 post, 'A Light In The Mourning' I talked about my very dear friend who committed suicide in 2003. Sometime after her passing I wrote this poem which helped me to unburden myself of the awful pain that just wouldn't subside no matter how many times folks offered their condolences. I knew I needed to give a voice to my feelings, and, for me, I do that best by putting words on paper. 

I didn't include the poem in my former post because I'd somehow misplaced it, but after a frantic search of all my belongings and a few calls, I managed to secure a copy. I offer it now to anyone who has endured the loss of a loved one to suicide. Never knowing 'why' can be maddening, and never being able to forgive such a horrific act can be damaging to one's wounded spirit. It is my sincere hope that after reading my thoughts, you'll gain some insight into the mind of a suicidal victim and begin to accept it, perhaps forgive it even.



In the blackness of night,                                       
She writhes in unspeakable pain.                          
Her demons screeching out obscenities                 
Leaving her tormented soul defeated,                   
Without hope or friend,                                       
She ends her life.                                               

In the early mourning                                          
We cry rivers of tears,                                         
Wail in deafening pitch,                                       
Sustain crushing blows                                         
To heart and spirit,                                              
Drained, we turn stone cold.                                

We hate her for this dastardly act,                        
Cursing her decision to inflict agony.                     
But not for precious memories,                                     
We might hold her forever in contempt,                 
Wishing her eternal suffering,                               
Damnation even.                                                  

In time, God only knows how long,                        
We remember,                                                     
Laughing like hyenas, 
Talking about how to live,                                                               
Dancing to life’s rhythms,                                     
Singing in perfect harmony.                                     

Then, somewhere in the morning,
An incredible light appears.
Trembling we draw closer'
And although never seen before,
This radiance is familiar, 
Comforting ever.

Intuitively, we recognize her glow.
It warms our hearts,
Eases our minds,'
Lifts our burdens,
Genuinely loves us.

And in the light of the mourning,
We sense the 'why' of it.
Enlightened in our grief,
We come to respect her choice.
For her, it was the right choice,
The only one even.

Every second we live, we choose life or death,
And the choices we make,
Are the right ones for us at the time.
Though we may never understand hers,
One day, perhaps, we'll accept it,
Forgive it even.

My prayers for all who ended their lives way too soon and for all of those who loved them.
God bless.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Choosing An Illustrator Might Need A Miracle!

I've just finished writing the second children's book in my "Together In Peace And Harmony" series. My mission now is to supply parents with books containing multicultural diversity for youngsters, ages 2-6. I believe that if we familiarize children at a very young age with differences, they will embrace rather than fear them. Ultimately my goal is to experience world peace before I'm called to vacate the premise, if you get my drift.

Now I must choose an illustrator. You might think it's a piece of cake to find a person to draw pictures for a children's book. Actually, working in this particular genre is more difficult that writing a novel and having a cover made.  First it takes hours to find the talent and creativity needed for such a project. Then you need to study every artists's porfolios to determine if their style fits your story. This takes a long time, and if there are two or three that are close in style, trying to select the right one gives you fits! Setting a budget is a financial puzzle, making sure to be fair yet at the same time making it lucrative enough to entice the illustrators. When the artists respond to your post, you must ask the right questions so that you can determine their work ethic and personality traits. If he or she and yourself are not compatible, finishing the project can take an enormous amount of time and frustration.

Are you getting the picture yet? Over the passed three weeks, I've accomplished everything I've listed above and have actually narrowed down my search to two candidates. One is a lovely young lady from India I've worked with before on another of my series. She is extremely talented, highly creative, and a dream to work with. We have a great relationship and seem to always be on the same page, no pun intended. She has expressed a real interest in this project and I couldn't be happier. The only fly in the ointment is that she's getting married in December and I don't want to add to her stress with deadlines.

The second candidate, one I've never worked with before, is listed as a 'rising talent' on the site I use when searching for freelancers. Her portfolio is impeccable showing great creativity and talent. She has no problem with the budget, and is highly interested in the project. Her answers to my questions met my approval, and she even had a few questions of her own which I always encourage my illustrators to voice. I think it shows confidence and maturity when they want to clarify something or insert an idea. To top it all off, she lives thirty minutes from my home. I've never worked with a hometown illustrator, and I guess it would be fun to have lunch and talk business at the same time.

To complicate things, I've informed both that I'll be making a decision today! Does it look like I'm anywhere near making THAT DECISION TODAY?

What to do? Choosing an illustrator to bring one's story to live is very taxing and extremely stressful!

I'm going to mull it over and take as long as I need to finalize the deal. Usually I'm very sure of myself and can decide without all this drama, but each of my books means the world to me, and
choosing the right illustrator is key.

I'm praying for a thunderbolt to appear above my head and God to appear letting me know which one is THE ONE!

Come on, God, I'm listening, I'm not trying to be pushy but I've only got less than twenty-four hours to seal the deal!

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Light In The Mourning

It will be thirteen years this Wednesday that a very dear friend of mine committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She did it exactly 15 days after she'd attended my daughter's wedding. After all this time I still question why. Never once in the twenty-five plus years that I'd known her would I have ever dreamed our friendship would end so horribly. Never once did she display sadness or temper, she was always cheerful, always thoughtful and caring. She had this quirky sense of humor and chattered constantly like a squirrel with an newfound acorn. She was physically beautiful, yet she didn't seem to know it, She was talented in so many ways, yet she didn't boast. She was a star, yet she never failed to put others first.

Some months after her passing, in the wee hours of the morning, I stood in the doorway of my kitchen. A warm light was streaming through the room apparently devoid of a specific source. I rubbed my eyes to make sure what I was seeing wasn't due to tired or defective vision, but my eyesight was fine. As I studied this unusual phenomenon, a feeling of familiarity washed over me. I'd been in its presence before, many, many, many times. I'd been warmed by its loving spirit, I'd been cheered by its happiness, I'd been privileged to have been its friend.

I absolutely believe my friend visited that morning to let me know that she was in a better place. I absolutely believe she came to lift my sadness and shine a light in the mourning that had enveloped me from the moment I'd heard of her death.

In life, she truly cared about others, so it stands to reason that when she was no longer with us, she'd do anything she could to take away the sadness and bring a ray of light into our hearts.

Miss you, dear friend, always and forever.

Monday, September 5, 2016


Three years ago our neighbor of nearly forty years passed away. Naturally we were concerned as to who would buy the house and move in. It took an entire year before anyone showed a real interest, and another few months before we found out it had been sold. Our street's rumor mill was abuzz. Some said the new owners were a married couple with no kids, some thought a bachelor purchased it, and some, like my hubby and I, had no clue that it had even been taken off the market.

Fast-forward to present day: In April we attended their beautiful wedding. Since then we've shared everything from gardening tips, to garbage bags, to stories of when we were first married which was forty-eight years ago this June. Just the other day I was telling Delcie about the horrific delivery of my third child. Now instead of maybe in three years, she's pretty sure they won't even think of becoming parents for another five!

On Thursday evening as I watered my flowers, the "new neighbors" sneaked up behind me and opened a conversation with, "Are you guys coming to our Labor Day picnic on Saturday?"

"No," I replied, "we weren't invited."

"Hey, we knew you'd come anyway, whether or not you were invited, so we didn't bother to extend a formal invitation"

My usual reply was "Yep, if we saw people and smelled food, we'd be there come hell or high water!"

The Saturday picnic was a blast! The attendees included parents from both sides, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, childhood pals, and college friends. Oh, my hubby and I and our dog, Shadow, too.
There was enough food to feed a large army, beverages for every taste, and a corn hole contest that went on and on and on. Ben's mom, Barbie and her partner, Josh, outplayed every opponent for hours on end. Delcie and I tried to unseat them, but we both sucked. We promised we'd practice all year long, even in the dead of winter, so we'd be the ones to dethrone them next time.

Although we haven't known Ben and Delcie for long, and have only been in the company of their families maybe four or five times, we've been made to feel like we're old friends who've been a part of each other's lives for forever. These 'two kids' as we call them are the best of this new generation. They are responsible, respectful, helpful, easy-going and have a quirky sense of humor. How we got to be so lucky to have been blessed with such wonderful neighbors, I really can't say, but, believe me, I'm not complaining.

As the evening went on, Ben started up the fire pit and I hurriedly retrieved the giant marshmallows and sticks I'd purchased months ago but never had the chance to use. The young as well as the more mature squealed with delight as they proceeded to burn the hell out of those white fluffy things! Most of them said they liked eating marshmallows when they were charcoaled, but I suspect they were just trying to make themselves feel better about their obvious inadequacies. My marshmallow was a beautiful golden brown with a lava-like inside that was to die for!

Next I pulled out all the stops, my mountain pie makers. Using pie crust instead of bread, and both apple and cherry filling, I baked up the best pastries in the land. As I passed around pieces of my delectable dessert, the youngins said they preferred pizza filling. What do they know anyhow! The folks with the more sophisticated palates couldn't get enough mountain pies and begged for blueberry and peach the next time around.

As the picnic began to wind down, those of us still sitting around the campfire talked and laughed about the simple things in life. Just before hubby and I decided it was time to go, Delcie came up to me and told me that she had a life goal. She asked if I wanted to know what it was. Of course I did, I'm a nosy old broad who is always ready to hear something nobody else has heard before.

"When I get to be your age," she said, "I want to be you."

For a second I couldn't respond with a comeback because I was speechless. No one had ever told me they wanted to be me. My new neighbor touched my heart with her warm sincerity. Maybe it was her choice of beverage that had something to do with her newly-found life goal, but I'll take her compliment nonetheless. I love you, too, Delcie.

As neighbors go, we've hit the jackpot! Winning the lottery, if you will! It's like we've known each other a lifetime, and perhaps in another past lifetime, we have!