2019 wasn’t meant to be a winning year for NaNoWriMo. I signed up this year for one purpose – distraction. I didn’t want to face the fact that my writing mentor-neighbor-friend would die before Thanksgiving. She questioned my decision to sign up for this challenge, insisting that I was avoiding the publication of my memoir, the memoir that she had finished editing a couple of months ago. “Just publish the damn thing,” she said about the 9th of November. Instead, I went home and added more than 2400 words to the NaNoWriMo project.
Things turned for the worst the next day. My friend began to fail. Suddenly bedridden, she looked out her window at the autumn leaves. “Do you remember the story ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry?” She asked. When I admitted I had no recollection, she offered a brief synopsis. I followed the gaze of her eyes to see only a handful of leaves on the branch outside her window and asked if she was watching for the last leaf to fall. She smiled and closed her eyes.
The next few visits were painfully silent as that one last leaf swayed in the wind. On the 21st day of November the final leaf drifted slowly to the earth as my friend took her last breath.
My takeaway here is not about not finishing the novel. It’s about making the right choices for each moment. Time is precious and I was blessed with the time to sit at my friend’s bedside during those final days. Sad as it is, she died with peace, grace and dignity – just the way she lived her life.
While I stand on the side of those disappointed in the recent election, I have kept relatively quiet in taking any political stance in this precious writing space. Maybe it’s fear of losing friends and family who are important to me, but the time has come to agree to disagree. That’s okay. I purposely waited until after Veteran’s Day to write this post. I honor veterans and appreciate their service.
I choose to wear a safety pin in peaceful protest. I wear it as a symbol of moving forward with hope and solidarity. I wear it to support those who feel threatened by the hate and fear mongering as a sign that they are safe with me. I wear it as my biracial grandson goes off to school with fear that he may be the target of hate crimes. I wear it to support my LGBTQ friends and family. I also wear it for those who struggle with the hatred that has infiltrated our country: immigrants, disabled, veterans, refugees, women and survivors.
I do NOT wear this safety pin because I am anti-Trump. I wear it as a symbol of pro-acceptance and unity. I stand with those in peaceful protest, not those who burn flags and riot in the streets.
I choose to remain friends with those who do or don’t share my beliefs and hope my friends and family will honor our differences.