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Are You an Author or a Business?

 

1497472_575485172534149_120350454_nIf you are an independent author and have published a book with hopes of selling copies, you are both an Author and a Business Entity.

Welcome to the world of Indies. It will seem overwhelming at times. Social media platforms, business plans, budgets, advertising, even book signings.

I have collected the following words of wisdom to encourage myself on those down days. I share them with you in the hopes it will help your journey.  Enjoy! Take heart! If they succeeded, you can too!

 

 

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself.  I see life almost like one long University education that I never had.  Every day I’m learning something new. ”

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand

“Information flow is the lifeblood of your company because it enables you to get the most out of your people and learn from your customers.” 

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation

“People I work with are open to leadership that has a vision, but this vision has to be communicated clearly and persuasively, and always, always with passion.”

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop

“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man or opportunity to make a living.”

John Rockefeller, American philanthropist

“Every decision you make is an important one, whether there are twenty thousand people working for you or just one.”

Donald Trump, Real Estate developer

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

Oprah Winfrey, host of the Oprah Show

“When we consider a project, we really study it – not just the surface idea, but everything about it.  And when we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way.  We have confidence in our ability to do it right.”

Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company

“Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful men keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton hotels

“You have to be open-minded when those early opportunities present themselves. Take advantage of them whether they’re going to make you a lot of money or not.”

Rachael Ray, celebrity Chef and Author

“You can do so much in ten minutes’ time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good.  Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.”

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA company

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make Me Feel important.”  Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise.  They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

Sam Welton, found of Wal-Mart chain

“What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best – which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is.  When I did that success found me.”

Debbi Fields, found of Mrs. Fields Cookies

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

Ray Kroc, found of McDonald’s

 

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Chapter – Moving On

 

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It is no wonder we write books with chapters.  Life is like a book, broken down into moments of happenings, each leading into the next, until the final end. There are chapters better than others. Sometimes you are reading along and you think, I wouldn’t have written it that way. That’s terrible. Couldn’t it have turned out better?

My individual life story turned very dramatic and sad a few years ago. There was the chapter about happily-ever-after being interrupted by the third bout of cancer for my handsome prince. The chapter about the final courageous battle he fought and didn’t win. And the chapter of aimless wandering in my search of healing. Then the next few chapters were action packed with changes.

The chapter I’m in now, I would like to have written differently, but I’m not the author of this story. I know that I have a direct line to the author, and sometimes I have the choice how the scene may go. But most the time I feel like the unsuspecting character being affected by things outside of my control.

For instance, I just signed on the sale of my house. The house I lived in the longest period in my gypsy style life.  It’s funny how we try to settle down in life. Find that one little spot and put up a white picket fence, expecting to live out our days in wise contemplation. Instead, we forget life is never at rest. It is a journey with changing chapters, some good and some bad.

And the only baggage we get to take with us into the next phase of life after the book has ended, are the memories we have amassed.  I know this deep inside of me, yet I keep trying to slow down and find that one place to call home, to put up my feet and rest awhile and write off that chapter as the end.

Not to be. For the last year, in getting ready for the sale and moving, I have learned this lesson with each treasure I have decided to keep, give to someone or throw away. I had no idea one could collect that much stuff in a mere eighteen years! But as I cleaned out one room after another in the house, memories flooded back with each object wrapped and tucked away or put into a trash bin.

I realize now, that a house is just walls that will eventually turn to dust. Just like our bodies will one day. In staying there I am only hoarding memories, not writing new chapters. That is why I collected so many objects that triggered those memories. But when I signed, I walked away from the house I loved with all the memories of living there and interacting with all the family and friends that crossed the threshold. And of course, I was reminded, like any good chapter that you can go back and read over, the most precious thing is going with me. My family and friends

We will gather again somewhere else, and make new memories, and share the old. Like all the trips I have made to other countries and states, there are ups and downs. But I know now this is not my final home. The last chapter will never be written. There is always a new destination and a new existence. We are not meant to be planted and have white picket fences. We are not meant to be stationary but to grow and learn, explore and discover new things about ourselves and the world around us, in this life and the next.

So I say goodbye to the place I thought to live out the rest of my life. It is a bittersweet feeling. But obviously, the book is going on. Life is truly the never-ending story.

books, cancer, cancer survival, hope, indie writer, journaling, stories, Uncategorized, writing

Good Morning!

It has been over a year since I have posted a blog. You might be wondering what happened? How or why does one disappear?

I could wax poetic and say I have emerged from the long, dark night that grieving can bring about. Or, I could point out that it has been a crazy three years. But if I was pressured to come up with a simple reason or bring it down to a single word, I would have to simply say, OVERWHELMED.

After my husband passed, I spent a year lost. Then a year re-engaging in life. Then there was the year of getting married again, cleaning out the house, putting it up for sale and rearranging my entire life schedule.

Now things seem to have settled a little, I have found the characters from the last book I wrote demanding to be released into the world by publishing their story. Being so rusty and out of touch with all that it takes to do that, I hired a Life Coach to get me back into shape. So I’m working into the area of marketing, production, social media and just plain organizing.

Interestingly enough, the desire to write has come back as well. I feel like a hermit coming back out into the light of day! Gosh, it’s bright out here!

I hope you will join me as I continue to journey again in the world of the written word.

books, cancer, cancer journey, cancer survival, grief, hope, journaling, Relationships, stories, Uncategorized, writing

A Widow’s Conundrum

A month had passed since the funeral.  I had stayed strong on the outside for all to see and succeeded in getting through it. Now, each morning when I arose, the reality seeped in a little more each day and the shock receded, leaving me raw and vulnerable.

I went from wanting someone to mention him or console me, to wanting to hurt in silence and avoid everyone. In this stormy sea, the squalls frequently came with drenching tears or became the doldrums of not feeling anything.

There was no direction. No goals. No plans for the future. I was adrift with no forward movement.  The only constant was the ache and the knowledge it would never be the same. I was bitter that life marched on, dragging me with it.

This stage, or whatever you want to call it, differs for everyone. I know this after spending hours talking with others who, like me, have gone through it. I wanted to hurry up this stage, get it over quickly, thinking the sooner I did; I could capture some normalcy again.  Now all I can do is record my journey and know that no two are alike.

Before Darrell passed, I had ample warning he would go before I would.  We talked.  I thought we covered it all. Finances, kids, what I would do after he passed. But no amount of planning or talking helps you prepare for the actual journey and the tidal wave of confusing emotions.

I thought it would go this way. I would grieve, hurt and then rebound.  I would become a missionary in Africa or serve the homeless at a local soup kitchen.  I would devote my life to my Lord. I would be a pillar of strength and guidance to my family.  I would go on living because I thought I could handle being alone. I would be a good widow in everyone’s eyes, holding my love for him like a beacon. I would be the example of true love that never dies.

Then one night in the ER when I was deathly ill, it all came crashing down around me. I finally admitted to myself there is a difference between alone and being lonely.

I was depressed. I had isolated myself in our winter home in Yuma.  I had lost weight due to not eating and sleeping. I couldn’t see a way forward because I was so wrapped up in my grief. Ending up in the same emergency room Darrell had on the same day a year later was a wake-up call.  A stern ER doctor lectured me on what I needed to do to get myself healthy.  I listened.

I reconnected with friends. Joined chat sites. Came home to the kids and started working on the house. I picked up writing again. Went out into the community and found volunteer work at the local cancer clinic. And ran into someone I wasn’t looking for.

At first, we just chatted. Then I tried to pushing him away in a panic because I didn’t want anything more than a friend. He firmly explained it was just an offer of friendship. Since he was four years out from his loss, I wanted to know about his journey in hopes I could glean from it some kernel of wisdom, a vision of hope.

So began a wonderful friendship and the year passed. On the anniversary of my husband’s death, family and friends helped light Chinese lanterns to remember the man who loved us all. The one I released hovered over the house as if he was saying he missed me.  I was gaining more peace every day, moving forward sluggishly, but still not wanting to release the life I had shared with him entirely.

His clothes still hung in the closet. I felt I lost more of him with each change, with each item of his that slipped away. But I also knew it was healthy and to heal I needed to move on with life.

My husband and I had blended a family. Three of his kids and two of mine from previous marriages had bonded well. In fact, the kids had done far better than I had. Still, I worried about them going forward. So I tried to be a good example.

Except then, my new friend proposed. We had slowly begun to date, even though we didn’t think of it that way. We met for coffee, had lunch, even a few dinners. All the while talking about our former spouses and growing closer.

What should I do? Darrell and I had never talked about having someone else in our lives if one of us passed on. I loved him so much I never entertained the idea there would be anyone else.  What would happen now? How could I replace the love I felt for one man with another? Where was my narrative of carrying my love for my husband until the day I died?  What would the kids think? What would my friends think?  What did I think?

It seemed a widow’s conundrum. It is not that I will ever love Darrell less, nor can I. And I could never, ever replace him. In fact, I struggled with the idea I could even love another man. But I had this same panic before my second child was born.  I remember watching my daughter sleep one night while her sister stirred in my belly.  I was worried.  How could I ever love another baby as much as I had loved my first? Yet, when the second daughter was born, I fell in love immediately. Not with the same love, but a love that was hers and hers alone.

I had forgotten the heart is inflatable. It can stretch to love many. The thing is – each love is different – because each person is different.

How could I explain to those who were still grieving the loss of their father or friend, that I could still love Darrell? That the love I felt for him was there and it would never go away. It left a permanent scar that would ache every time there was a family gathering, and he wasn’t there. Or I visited a place that we had shared, and I remembered our past life together. Every holiday, every memory that crossed my mind would have a bittersweet twinge of melancholy.

Yet, I needed to move on. Continue to experience life. New loves would come in. Not to replace, but to reside alongside all the other loves that were already there.

It is lonely to live without your soul mate, the love of your life. But there are still people I love left in my life. The love that grew and was shared by two souls, who became one, now overflows, fills and touches all who are still in it. I realize I can choose to honor that love until we meet again, by living alone and always in its shadow. Or I can go out and experience continued growth to my heart and spread the love I have received.

I decided to honor my love for my husband by giving more love to another lonely heart. There are those who may think less of me or feel I didn’t love my husband enough to stay a grieving widow.  I can say I totally understand.

I understand because I once thought that way. I have learned that until you travel the road, you don’t know how the trip is going play out. I remember what I thought it would be like to go to Africa and when I did, it was nothing like the journey itself.

So it is with grief. It is the most singularly, loneliest path we will travel in life.  No one can walk it with us, and you never know where the path might lead, or what emotions you will experience.

Love those in your life who are grieving. Understand their choices may not always make sense to you. And remember one day you too will experience this path. There is no way to prepare for it except watching how others travel it.

Know that love continues to expand. It grows and flourishes when it is fed and understood. It is not meant to be locked away to die, never to be gifted again.

 

 

cancer, cancer journey, cancer survival, grief, hope, Uncategorized

Process of Grief

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August 4th, 2016

Last night, my friend stopped over and asked me to look something up for her on my computer. As my screen saver popped up, one of my favorite pictures of Darrell appeared. His eyes were crinkled in one of my favorite grins.

She looked sadly at me and asked, “Do you really think that helps?”

I didn’t have to ask what she was referring to; I knew it was about my grief over his passing. They say anger is part of the process of grieving. I had been fortunate that there hasn’t been really anything to be angry about. Yes, I missed him, yes, it had been hard to lose him, but really his final days had been peaceful and our relationship up to the last minute, had been so good.

Yet, a comment like this, even eleven months out, had a way of worming under my skin and setting off a bigger spark of anger each time I was questioned on how I was handling my grief.

Aren’t we all different? Isn’t it refreshing we aren’t all the same? Each of us sees through different eyes and perceives the world in so many wonderful ways around us. This is why I have always respected how differently each person handles things in their lives.  Sometimes I worry their coping methods are destructive to their health or way of life, but still they have the freedom of choice to do this.

I had so many people who were wonderfully supportive. My favorites were the ones who just listen. Or ask me how I’m coping and really wanted to hear how I was doing it.  My least favorites were those who had a preconceived idea of how I should be doing it.

I’ve been questioned about such silly things. Why are his clothes still in our closet?  Why haven’t I spread his ashes and why do I wear my wedding ring?  To them, there is a rule somewhere about this. I respect that through the years there have been some common customs developed to help people move on, but they aren’t set in stone.

I still have need of feeling some normalcy in my life, so the clothes remain until that need passes.  We had wanted our ashes spread together, so I must wait to add mine to his. The wedding ring was my version of wearing black. I needed that support, that closeness to my husband, to the way of life I had. It also helped keep away others and not have the dreaded question asked, “So are you married?”

Whatever my reasons, they should be respected. Pictures of my loved one should be a normal thing. As my granddaughter pointed out, I could have asked if she had pictures of her grandchildren on her phone. They live in another state, so why wouldn’t she want to have pictures of them when she couldn’t be with them. She still loves them even though she doesn’t see them every day and wants a reminder of them. Why wouldn’t I continue to have pictures of Darrell decorate my living space?  Just because he has passed, doesn’t mean he never existed. I can’t wipe my memory clean.  Starting over is hard enough, but I need the foundation my married relationship created for me to continue on.

Grieving people are just touchy, each in a different way. No wonder people avoid friends who have lost loved ones. It is hard to determine what will and won’t offend or hurt them. I was on that side once. I had never lost a loved one and felt a deep agony over what to say to someone who had.

But don’t worry, no matter what you say or do, we understand you are trying to help and just overlook the unintentional mistakes. Just don’t be surprised at tears, a growl or a blank look. Just keep being there for us.  We will heal; it is just going to take a little time.

 

indie books, indie writer, Uncategorized, writing

An Occasional Rant

The hardest thing about writing a book isn’t writing it. Some would say it’s just trying to actually sit down and write it. Some would say it’s the organization, or having the perfect plot, or of showing not telling, or even the construction of the grammar-perfect sentences. I would disagree. It is the editing process. In fact, it is so hard, that many are tempted to skip it or give up on it all together.

I would have to admit, first and foremost, I’m a reader. All my life, reading has been my entertainment, crutch, mentor, and escape. With the event of Amazon I discovered I could comment on books that I bought, so I became a reviewer.  Eventually, for some strange reason I still do not comprehend, I felt the desire to even write a book and try my hand at self-publishing. So, as you can see, I’ve experienced all sides of how a book is created.

But I want to thank all those authors who go through the editing process and don’t give up. It is, of all the aspects of the book business, the process I hate the most. I know that I must go through an edit. My editor can verify this and has earned her halo going through it with me.

This doesn’t give me the right to sit in judgment of anyone’s book creating process, but it definitely gives me an understanding of the reasons why it could be easy for someone to not want to do it.

I do admire those writers who persevere. How they give of their time, trudge onward into the wee hours of the night, cussing and cursing, pounding their heads against walls and still come through the other side with a full head of hair.

I grow weary of those who evade the process or think it’s not necessary. I see it in books that have glaring grammar issues, poor formatting, poor plot structure or no plot at all. Something an editor worth their salt would help a struggling author to correct. I tire of those books I review that could be so good and yet when I contact the author to gently suggest an edit, am told that it is great just the way it is.

Or those who profusely produce and could be great, yet can’t see that we all have to go through an edit. I’ve heard many an excuse, but in my opinion, it boils down to one thing, an edit hurts, it is hard work and it takes dedication.

I remember one morning waking up after a long night editing, complaining to my husband, “Why the heck am I arguing with my editor over imaginary people and imaginary plot scenes? It is all just make believe!”

My pride has been stung again and again when I think I’ve written that perfect scene. When I’m sure the sentence is perfect in grammar. When I add so many neat things in a story, only to be told it has nothing to do with the plot, get rid of it. And it goes on and on. I want to believe in the dream of being such a great author that I write it perfectly the first time.

But Reality is, writing a book is not about writing it right the first time. It is about writing and writing and writing until you get it right.

books, cancer journey, historical romance, indie writer, stories, Uncategorized, writing

Changing Directions

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After losing the love of my life in September, I have floated aimlessly on the waves of change, until the last few weeks. Then I decided to get back into my second passion in life.

I’ve taken control of the helm once again through the re-organization of my writing world. First was to hire someone that had knowledge of the vast digital world I am helpless in. Starting with my blog, you will notice new banners, social links and a page advertising the upcoming new book due to Mr. Richter’s skills, rickcarufel@netscape.net.   I have revised the first two books and added two children’s books as well.

For those of you who have been following my journaling on the 33 years of travel through cancer with my husband, (Living in the Shadow of Death) do not fear, I am still working on it. It will now be available on my Author website. It will be linked here and notification served through Facebook.

I needed the freedom to post again about my writing journey and to re-blog some of the awesome blogs I run across in my travel through cyber-space.

I must sadly report that I’m still editing Norse Hearts. This is a 100,000 worded romance, and trust me, grammar is not a talent of mine, just ask Chryse Wymer, http://ocdeditor.weebly.com/, my ever long-suffering editor.  But when it is finished you will be inundated with advertising joy.

Meanwhile, thank you for following my little corner of insanity.

 

cancer, cancer journey, cancer survival, hope, journaling, stories, Uncategorized

Waiting

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You can almost touch the feelings in an ICU waiting room. It can be one of the loneliest places in the world or one of most miraculous. Either way, it changes your life.

This was my first time in one. I looked around. There was a man standing at the glass window that looked out into the hall. His eyes stared unseeing, worry drawn in every crevice and line in his face. Over in a corner, a mother sat with two quiet children. That was enough to draw my attention. No scampering about or babbling in their own language.  Just two sets of large eyes, staring at a foreign world.

Then there was the little old lady. She sat hunched in her chair, arms wrapped around her as if trying to hold everything in. Red-rimmed eyes showed tears were at the ready. I was drawn to her. Is it true misery loves company?

She nodded as I sat down, then like a dog waiting for its master, her gaze riveted back to the stark doors of the ICU. For a few minutes, I argued with myself.  Say something. She needs comforting. Can’t you see that? Talk to her!

My voice sounded out of place in this room of waiting. “Are you okay?”

Her shoulders stiffened, her head lowered, and I was about to get up and move to another seat, embarrassed I had intruded when she spoke softly.

“My husband could be dead right now.”

Now it was my turn to rivet all my attention on those two doors.

She looked at me, and I was drawn back to meet her gaze. I was surprised by the calm I could see in her eyes. She opened up, pouring out the story of her husband’s years of heart disease. How, right now, after another heart attack, they were trying to revive him. She wondered, out loud, her fears. Should she tell them to stop? Was he ready to go? Was he already gone?

Turning back to stare at the doors, tears falling from those reddened eyes, she said, “I just wish they would tell me what is going on.”

I’ve never spoken about my faith unless asked. Always felt it was a private thing. I could never be a good evangelist. But at this moment, a wave of impulse took over. I grabbed her hand, squeezed and words I had never spoken before tumbled from my mouth. “Would you like me to pray with you?”

My inner voice went into a panic, screaming, what are you thinking? My heart argued back; she needs this.

Her countenance changed into the loveliest dawn I have ever seen. Her eyes widened, a smile tipped up aging skin to reveal beautiful white teeth and her tears stopped.  Age spotted hands eagerly found mine, and she bowed her head.

There seemed to be an eternity of silence before my brain engaged my voice. Words I will never remember came out in a mumble. She added a few of her own, and then with a mighty squeeze, we went back to before.

Now she questioned me about why I was there. I told her about my husband’s cancer. For a moment, she looked wistful before she said, “All disease is terrible, but I wish my husband had cancer instead. It would be so much easier for them to be able just to cut out what is killing him.”

From where I was sitting, I would have liked to disagree, but I understood. To her, in the valley of the shadow of death that she walked in, all other valleys looked greener.

The doors silently opened, and a very professional nurse came out and called to the lady beside me.  “Your husband is doing well; he is asking for you.”

Her veined hand squeezed mine. “Answered prayer! God bless you and your husband too.”  Then she disappeared behind the forbidding doors.

Another hour passed by before finally it was my turn to hear that Mr. Gabel was doing fine, and I could see him.

Even though I worked in a hospital and was no stranger to an ICU unit, I was shaken when I saw him.  Until it is one of your loved ones hooked up to all that tubing and beeping monitors with flowing alien-green lines, you really can’t understand the fear you feel.

His nurse had obviously seen that look before. Funny how I knew many male nurses, but I had never seen them as the nurturing type. Only female nurses fit that description in my book. I was having a lot of firsts.

To this day, this male nurse remains vividly in my mind as one of the most caring, tender, nurturing human beings I have ever met.  “Don’t be afraid. I know it looks scary, but he is doing well.”  Staring at my strong husband, all I could see was a mound of cotton blankets, his bruised arm with several IV lines and a plastic protrusion coming out of his mouth. He was as white as the blankets he was under. His chest rose in an odd mechanical way, and I knew, sensed, he was not conscious.

The nurse’s rich baritone stood out against the beeping.  “Right now, he is in a medically induced coma because of the trauma of the surgery and on a ventilator. The doctors will start bringing him up tomorrow.  You can touch his hand; he hears you. He may not remember it, but he knows you are here. Talk to him. “

I slid my hand into his cold one, swollen from the fluids being pushed into him. Gently I rubbed the only spot free on the back of his hand, murmuring, “I love you,” over and over.  Tears of exhaustion slid out. Finally, I sat in a tiny corner of the very equipment-crowded room and felt grateful.  Darrell stirred, fighting the ventilator, his arm moving towards his face.

I jumped up, grabbing his hand, noting his eyes half opened, a vacant stare meeting my own.  The heart monitor beeped, and Darrell groaned.

“It’s okay Mr. Gabel. You are in the ICU. You are doing well.  Everything is okay,” the nurse said soothingly.

I squeezed his hand, once again murmuring “I love you”.  My heart rejoiced when I got a gentle squeeze back and he rolled his head towards me, not seeing me, but sensing my presence. The heart monitor leveled out.

For the next hour, this was my routine as the nurse bustled around, taking notes, checking fluids, watching monitors and reassuring his comatose patient.

“Mrs. Gabel, where are you staying?” the nurse asked.

I still couldn’t get over being called Mrs. Gabel. That was Darrell’s mother, not me.

“I planned on staying here.”

The nurse’s assessing gaze was now turned upon me.  “I can’t tell you no, but I was just curious, do you trust me?”

I was taken back for a moment. “Well, yes. Why do you ask?”

A boy-next-door smile of warmth appeared.  “Your husband is in the safest place on earth. Surrounded by all these machines, and my capable skills, even if he had a problem, which he isn’t, you couldn’t ask for him to be in a better place. I bet you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks. Call the relatives, take care of yourself.  Do it now while you can, because you will be taking care of him soon enough.  It is my turn to have the night watch, and no offense, but there’s nothing you can do for him. Trust me, he’s in good hands.”

He was right, I was exhausted.  I watched him carefully lift my husband’s shoulders to slide a plumper pillow under his head.  My mind was made up. Gently I leaned over and kissed Darrell on the cheek and squeezed his hand, saying my customary, “Goodnight Darrell, I love you most.”

 

 

cancer journey, cancer survival, journaling, Uncategorized

The Hard Part of Communicating

 

It amazes me how child-like we become in a hospital setting. It is also interesting how much you have time to talk. Things you would never stop to discuss during a normal day become common subjects when facing illness or death.

In a moment of silence, I voiced the subject I knew lay between us. “So are you scared about the surgery?”

“Yes, wouldn’t you be?” Darrell answered solemnly. I scrambled to fill in the silence.

“Do you want me to call your parents to be here?”

He shook his head ‘no’.  “I don’t want to bother them. If they want to come up, they will. It should be their decision.”

“Ugh. I don’t like stoic German genes. Why can’t you just ask for them to come if you want them here?” I got a stoic German glare in return.

“You know, I have only one complaint about growing up. I had it pretty good, but Dad never would say he loved me. Even to this day, if I say ‘Dad, I love you,’ he says, ‘Same to you.’”

I shook my head. In my family ‘I love you’ was said quite often. Maybe not always with sincerity, but it was common.

“Was it the way he was raised maybe?”

“My grandmother said it all the time. Don’t think I ever heard my grandfather say it though. Maybe that’s where he got it from. But it always bugged me.”

I couldn’t believe it. Darrell had grown up with a “Leave It To Beaver” family life. His mother was a stay-at-home mom who had fresh baked goodie always ready for Darrell, his brother and sister when they got home from  school. They had traditional Christmas’s and Thanksgiving with the Norman Rockwell of family gatherings. I was lucky to get a TV dinner or fast food for a late dinner. Christmas was a time of depression and anger in my childhood home.

Yet, here he was yearning for something deeper. I decided I couldn’t stand by and allow him to do this without family support. I gave the excuse of needing a snack and slipped out to the nearest telephone.

“Does he want us there?” his mother queried.

“Yes, I think he does. I know he’s worried about the surgery. He is just too stubborn to ask you to come up. He doesn’t want to bother you.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake. Well, we will be there this afternoon. We were just waiting for him to call.”

I shook my head as I hung up and slipped back into his room, deciding not to tell him what I had done. I wanted it to be a surprise to him. Yet, for all of my judgement on his family’s lack of communication, I was blind to my own.

Before we had gotten married Darrell knew I believed in God. I asked him once, and he assured me he did also. He had attended the German Congregational Church growing up. And the conversation ended there. I had started attending church and hadn’t ever asked him to go. I believed if he wanted to, he would just do it.

Right now I was clinging to the words I would read in the Bible every night. I was searching for a sign in the scripture to reassure me everything was going to be okay. I would slip from the room taking the Bible with me to the waiting room just next door.

After my little ‘good deed’, I wondered how I could comfort someone else during this time of trial. I knew one of the ways to help myself during stress was to reach out to others. I naively asked God to show me how I could help someone else.

I picked up the Bible and headed out.

“So where are you going?” he asked.

Startled, I turned to face him. “Just next door to do a little reading.”

“Okay,” he said, turning his attention to the TV. NHRA racing was on, a hobby of his.

I had just settled in with a warm cup of tea when a young woman stormed into the room. Slamming a Styrofoam cup down on the counter, she angrily dumped sugar into it. I looked away but out of the corner of my eye I saw her glance at the open Bible on my lap.

“How can you read that? I’m so mad at God, I can’t even pray!”

I froze, staring at her, my mind scrambling to think of something to say.

“Why are you mad at God,” I squeaked out.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed, asking him to heal my father. The colon cancer is back. Why would God do this to him. To me.” Tears glistened for a moment, then rolled down her cheeks.

Why God would allow cancer to steal away our loved one’s lives had crossed my mind more than once this last week.  I took a deep breath.

“I don’t know. But I think it’s okay to be mad at God.”

It was her turn to freeze, looking at me wide-eyed. “You don’t think it’s a sin? I mean, I really am so angry I don’t even know if I believe in him anymore.”

I gave a quick mental prayer asking for the right words. “When you tell a three year old they can’t have any more candy, it doesn’t make sense to them. Why can’t they have something that tastes so good? They get angry at you. But you understand. You know they are not old enough yet to understand the reasons. You just have to say no. When they throw a temper tantrum, you don’t hate them. You don’t punish them. You understand. You scoop them up and hug them. Wipe away their tears. Yet you must stand firm.”

It was quiet for a little while.

“So you are saying we are just like children, that we don’t see the bigger picture. But I’m still hurt. He didn’t heal my dad. He’s a good man. I can’t stand the thought of losing him. Why is he taking him away from me? God could heal him if He wanted to. I’m afraid I’ve been so mad at God for so long He can’t forgive me. And I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to forgive him.”

I shrugged. “I think that’s okay. Father God understands. He says He forgives all our sins, when we ask for forgiveness. You just aren’t ready yet. You may never be. That’s between you and Him. But can I ask a favor of you?”

“What?”

“Do you mind if I pray for you and your father?”

She squinted for a minute, thinking, and the anger faded away as the furrow between her eyes relaxed. I noticed for the first time they were a sky blue.  She stuck out her hand, lips turning up into a sad smile. “I’m Sarah, my dad’s name is John. Do you have someone here too?”

The conversation turned towards Darrell and his condition. He was a very private person and he asked me to keep the door to his room closed all the time. Sarah commented she thought someone was dying because that is what the staff usually did for the terminal patients.

“No, he’s not terminal. There is still hope. He also has colon cancer.”

The conversation then turned to statistics, survival rates and symptoms. I realized Darrell was blessed to have his cancer found so early. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet up again. After she left I scurried back to Darrell’s room.

As I put the Bible back into my bag, Darrell spoke.

“You know you don’t have to leave the room to read the Bible. Can you read me something from it?”

I froze for the second time that night. “Sure, what are your favorite passages?”

“How about Psalms?”

Obviously I needed to work on communicating with my husband as well.