Wherefore Must We Wander Alone?

(Initially, I was playing with a “wherefore art” title, but those always go awry due to the fundamental misunderstanding of how wherefore is to be used or interpreted–interesting stuff at the link!) It was a rough week. The thing about being in a bad mood, is that you’re not always aware that you are in a bad mood, or, even if you know you’re cranky, you may not know the reason why. I want to start this blog by apologizing to those who suffered from my mood swings these past few days. I wasn’t monstrous, but I was grumpy as Hell. Finally, after a night of good food, good drinks, great company and conversations, some friends and I got to the root of my crankiness: I missed my mom.

I hadn’t even realized how close to Mother’s Day we were; or how close we’d come to my mom’s birthday, which is around the same time. As we heal from grief, part of that process is the mind’s softening of memories and sensitive dates. I used to remember this part of the year with piercing awareness and regularity. This time, these dates snuck up on me. Same with January 29th, which was when mom died; it, too, would have passed under a cloud of seemingly inexplicable moodiness this year unless my partner, the heart in my tin man, hadn’t reminded me when the day came around. I wish I had as good of a grasp on death, on how to love what has gone, as some of my characters do. Morigan is tough. She takes an emotional punch, spits out blood and a few teeth, and get’s ready for the next. I guess that’s what authors write, though: the heroes they aspire to be (or villainous archetypes they despise).

Speaking of Geadhain’s denizens, I did some solid work this week: I wrote one of two climaxes that has been building for over five years now—since I started the novels, and preceding that mark, if you count the years that Geadhain’s stories echoed in my head, unwritten. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, and I assure you today’s is an upbeat if bittersweet blog, however, a handful of your favorite fellows and gals died. Indeed, I thought that their passing was whence my own melancholy came. After all, I’d watched these heroes and antiheroes struggle to make themselves and their world a better place. I was rooting for these folks. But the truth of war—and life—is that it’s always messy. After I wrote the Greek Tragedy of a chapter titled, The Burning City, I was particularly moved by an excerpt: a dialog between two characters who had made it through this dark climax, scathed, but alive.

The exchange goes something like the below. (Note: most of the descriptive excerpts have been snipped out, and any names changed to prevent spoilers of so pivotal a scene—there’s obviously no “Sam” or “Tommy” in the manuscript. As is the nature of writing, everything you see may not even make it into the final draft!)

“I do not know what I am to do without him.”

“We never do, my dear. We’re still here, though, and that has to mean something.” She tried to flex his crippled limb and he grunted in pain, so she took his other hand and walked down the tunnel. “We have to make it mean something for those who can’t be with us. We have to get that arm of yours trussed up, too, or you won’t be any good for swordplay.”

Sam looked back at the bonfire roaring behind them, horrified. “Am I to leave him there?”

“He’s gone. We’re not, and there is a city of people—some dying, some in danger—who your brother would want us to serve. Tommy was not a romantic man, he wasn’t fancy with his words or feelings. But he was a soldier: a true warrior. Duty before passion, and passion through duty. The city needs our duty and our passion. Let him burn in peace.”

Seems like finding that balance between grief and hope, between healing and forgetting, is a challenge to even these brave (possibly) imaginary souls of whom I write. They were my inspiration and therapy this week, as much as the comfort of my friends and family. And the lesson shared with “Sam” resonates with many of us who have known loss: we must continue to love, we must continue to hope. We’re the ones left to stumble through this glorious, confusing game called life, while the departed soar with angels, become universal energy, or reincarnate as house-cats—or whatever vision of the afterlife in which you have faith.

Now for those of you who still have mothers on this Earth, today is your day to celebrate them, to make the memories that you will cherish when they have gone into the Great Mystery. I said “hello” to mom at the cemetery today, and it was a happy, if one-sided reunion. Don’t squander the day without spending time with that special woman in your life, either. Even if she’s just an echo now, you can still create memories, create love when talking to a ghost. People only die when we neglect their memory.

All my love,