For Carrie and Debbie

In honor of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, I have something to say.

Death is part of the story. It’s not the end of the story. Sometimes, it’s not even the worst part.

Carrie died the way we all want to die, if we know what’s good for us. Death came to her mid-stride, on her way from one plan to another. She never outlived her ability to do what she loved. Continue reading

Already Lost

I’m thinking about loss tonight.

I’ve noticed something unexpected that happens when I think about grief, or losing a loved one. In the last few months, my next thought after a sad thought is, “But think of what you’ve already lost.”

Think of all the time that is already gone, all the memories that are already memories, all the little daily truths that were a comfort or a joy and are gone now, left behind with passing time, or brokenness, or growth. Think of what you’ve already lost. Why is this idea what comes to help me? Continue reading

The Eternal Life of Objects

Book of Tennyson poems on old wooden dresser

The connection between material objects and time fascinates me. Things can transcend time. They are more eternal than people, in one sense. For example, I recently found on our shelves a 1942 edition of the “Song and Service Book for Ship and Field: Army and Navy.” It’s still here, thousands of miles from the city where it was published, transcending who knows what dangers, surrounded perhaps by death on every side. Human death. And yet, it’s still here.

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Walking Down the Drive

Once upon a time, when I was little, I went outdoors on a summer afternoon. I walked down the long driveway, from the backdoor of our yellow house, past the garden and the swingset, toward the garage. As I walked, I heard my own voice inside my head, telling the story of what I was doing. I knew the story stretched back to my beginning, and that I was just noticing it, not beginning it. I knew the story was happening still, and that it would keep on happening, as long as I kept on telling it. Continue reading

Fiction Is Like Carrot Soup

Carrots

“So, is this autobiographical?”

“I think this character is my aunt.”

“Was it that boy you dated senior year?”

Each time I write a book, its publication brings on a flurry of questions. The questions happen because the books are fictional, and I’m beginning to think there’s something about fiction that doesn’t make sense to us as human beings.
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Losing My Voice

Tangle of computer cords

Facebook locked me out of my account this week. And let me in. And locked me out. I built a second account, and Facebook locked that too. It said it was an impersonation. No, it was me. Well, then I must be impersonating myself. Is that even a thing?

This went on for several days, some times hour by hour. Before long, Facebook and I had thoroughly confused each other. Fortunately, it ended well. Nobody was impersonating anyone. The malware at the root of this evil is gone. The account is unlocked.

And then, I caught a cold and lost my voice. Continue reading

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Blue ocean water showing a small wave

Three years ago, we said goodbye to the Navy. If someone were to ask, “What’s it like, being a military family?”, I’d say, “The most lasting of my memories is the way that good things and hard things were so completely welded to each other. Being proud, being lonely, laughing hysterically, crying inconsolably, loving a place and wanting to leave it, missing a time you wouldn’t want to live through again. It changed everything, sometimes at high cost. But I would do it again, in a heartbeat.”

-Photo by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

Memorial Day

Anchor recovered from the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

Anchor recovered from the USS Arizona at Pearl HarborIt’s about to be Memorial Day again. Remembering time. Truth is, what we have to remember is more than we can handle. People die, in a war, and that’s already too much to grasp. But there are other casualties. Hundreds of them, for every soldier, on both sides. These casualties seem small, and they sometimes fly past so quickly that there’s no time to name them. But the empty places left by these small deaths remain, and there will be years and years to feel the loss, after it’s too late to prevent it. Continue reading

God Writing

Writing makes me think about God. Imagine writing a chapter. What’s in it – characters, plot twists, setting, subtext? Planning goes into that. Word choice. Looking at the other chapters. Thinking how you’re moving the action, developing the characters. But then, look at one day of your real life. One. What’s in it? SO many characters playing roles you know little to nothing about, and every one of them has an entire lifetime full of meanings and memories you know nothing about, and you and these other characters are interacting with each other, with yourselves, with your multi-faceted setting, with time, space, memory, love. And the collective intelligence and imagination of the human race to date has not come up with a way to predict what will happen in the next chapter.

Immensity.

-Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash