In the last three weeks, four women who I know lost their husbands – one to a bizarrely serious bout of pneumonia and the others to longtime illness and cancer. I am finding it shocking, truly shocking and so very sad to absorb. I have some good sense of what these women went through as their husbands struggled, and I have a good sense of what they will go through now as they work to make new lives for themselves and their children.
What I keep thinking is I wish my book was ready for them to read. Trouble is, I have hit a place where I am scared to move forward with it. The book has been carefully and expertly edited by Margot Cleary, and all I need is a week or so to finalize the manuscript, and then I could have galleys printed for review.
But I have been sitting on the project since Margot gave her edited work back to me several months ago.
It’s not that I don’t want to make Margot’s changes. They were excellent. She offered queries where she thought information was lacking, and she cut out countless passages where I droned on far too long. What she left me to work with is the heart of the story. Why am I so scared, then, to let it be told?
I think it finally occurred to me that once I publish the book, people will read it.
And why is that such a big deal? I have been writing first-person stories for the local paper for almost 30 years now, discussing everything from my experience of sibling rivalry to winning a court case that revolved around my accidentally passing a school bus about 20 years ago.
Part of the problem is I am grappling with big questions like, “What would Ed think?” But I am also just plain scared of being judged as a person. My grief wasn’t pretty. The things I did in the first months after Ed died made little sense.
And then that thinking takes me right back to, “Yes, and that’s why you should put the book out there.” So people who have never dealt with a loss understand that what they are experiencing is universal, that they are not the first ones having trouble coping with their new reality.
I can feel each day that I am getting closer to sitting down with Margot’s edited manuscript and my laptop. I promise to take that next leap of faith because, when I look past the fear, I can honestly say that my book will be a comfort.
Here’s to courage.