Another Much Sadder Birthday

My birthday this year coincided with most of the results of the midterms coming in. The outcome is better than I had hoped, giving me some cause for optimism. Although I have much to be grateful for this year, my youngest daughter’s absence made the occasion bittersweet. Any joy I feel is tempered with sadness now. In my last blog I was brimming with energy and confidence, excited about publishing my third book and looking forward to an author event March 24 at Village Books in Bellingham. My daughter, Haley, died that very morning of a fentanyl overdose. My wife and I spent the day at the hospital, where they managed to get her heart beating, but she did not regain consciousness.

I look back on my post from last year, “Thoughts On Becoming 70,” and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Such hubris. The wise old man—ha! Spry old guy with all his plans and projects—ha-ha! Grief can lay us low, I know. I had an urge to delete that post after reading it again, but I’ll leave it up, as an example of how the universe will give us a reality check.

But life goes on for the living, and the question is always how best to spend our time, and how to find some meaning in our remaining days. Some of us are fortunate. Many millions must use every available hour just to provide for their necessities. Though not by any means well-off by “Western” standards, I have the luxury of not having to scramble every waking hour to survive—and, for the moment, time and health to pursue my writing and musical projects. What else can I do? Those who know me understand I am compelled to such activity. The only way I know how to deal with grief is to stay busy. So I trudge on, sadder and perhaps no wiser, but certainly more appreciative of my family and friends, and far more empathetic with those parents who have outlived their children—the most desolate and heartbreaking grief of all.

One bright spot was the return to performing this summer in Lemon Creek. The time I spend rehearsing and performing with my daughter, Lesley, is more precious than ever. All our performances were out of doors, and the weather cooperated. I put up a few photos at the Lemon Creek page here.

I had to take a break from writing for a few months, but I’m back at it again. I’m working on a sequel to “Cape Decision,” and I’ve got a couple of other books in progress. But I don’t take anything for granted. We’ll see what transpires.