For the final installment of this mini-series, I’d like to hold up the mirror, not only to myself, but to you as the reader. Where do you go when you need to pause, look back at a moment, a feeling, a sensation, a decision from your past to help to manage what’s ahead of you?
Beneath the Stars deals with the concept of looking back quite a bit. I covered some of it last week with Eddie and his need to harken back to the lessons Maggie taught him about raising their son. Sid also uses his past to help communicate with his dementia-riddled father by taking him stargazing, he connects with his mother in quiet moments at a sewing machine, or in contemplating the religion that guided her. He also goes to his own personal past and beats internal demons in the form of soccer balls around at his high school field.
And for this author, I have a few tried and true places to revisit. The most common is probably a journey back into my musical life. Black Dust didn’t come simply from a desire to write a book about musicians, but from a desire to revisit that world. If life is wearing me down, I will even go back to the music of my church days, not for religious reasons anymore, but for the connection to my past, to the sounds that used to comfort and still can, even though my faith is in an entirely new place.
Beneath the Stars is a harkening back for me. I wanted to explore the emotions around unexpected death. Around the struggle to pick yourself up and live again when really, you just wanted to have disappeared with the loved one that also left.
I lost my best friend to diabetes complications almost nine years ago. And those first few years after her death were some of the most difficult for me. I’d experienced a death on a professional level a few years prior that I hadn’t completely healed from. She, along with my family, was my constant during that time. We’d been friends for 32 years, and suddenly…
Just like Adrian and Eddie dream about Maggie, I dreamt about Lisa regularly, perplexing dreams that woke me in the middle of the night, that kicked the grief right back into gear after having a few good weeks. Managing those dreams for Adrian helped me manage them for myself. She still appears from time to time, but it’s so much less distressing now.
Photos anchor, like Sid and his father who liked to sit with albums from time to time to remember for their own comfort, and to help Lou’s disappearing memory kick in. When looking for a picture for this post–the one at the end–I found a folder of over 1000 random photos on an old external hard drive. My daughter and I sat and looked through them, finding images of animals that have since passed, loved ones who have passed, old relationships, photos of me making pasticiotti, a favorite of Lisa’s that I prepared and took to her father the first Christmas after her passing. It grounded us to our world in a way we haven’t felt grounded recently.
Not to argue with Puumba from The Lion King–“You’ve got to put your behind… in your past,” but sometimes, you simply do. Our past informs, it educates, it warns and it comforts.
I’ll close with a fun moment in the midst of my grieving process with Lisa. She was Ohio’s own Imelda Marcos when it came to shoes. Oh, she didn’t buy Jimmy Choos or Louboutin, but she had hundreds of pairs, all kept in their original boxes. We shopped for shoes–a lot. It took me a long damned time before I could go shoe shopping after she died, but the day I did, I walked into a DSW and this greeted me.
I bought the shoes. And you should too.
So, I’ll ask again: Where do you go when you need to pause, look back at a moment, a feeling, a sensation, a decision from your past to help to manage what’s ahead of you?
Beneath the Stars, releases on Feb. 16, 2017, and is available for pre-order. Enter now to win a free e-book bundle and a $25 gift certificate to my publisher, Interlude Press.
You can win a free print copy by entering the giveaway at goodreads.