Went to L's Fall choir concert Thursday. All of us.
Probably doesn't sound like a big deal to most people reading this post, the idea of spending family time together attending ball games and parties as one big happy. Most people probably just get up and go, barely giving the all part a second thought.
The all part is big for our family. The all part rarely happened last year or the year before that or the year before that.
More often than not when we headed to this function or that, we did so as a subset. Because more often than not, E was sick. Take last school year, for example. By the end of October, E had missed at least a month of school. She wasn't mental-health-day sick. I'm talking actively sick with a bad cough and fever for a week or 10 days at a shot before it started all over again. The cycle never seemed to end. By the end of the school year, we lost count of her sick days.
Contrast last year to this. So far E's missed only two days. Is this run of luck a sign of things to come? Testimony to the rightness of the meds she's been on since late last Spring? A shift of the universe in her favor? I mentally knock on wood as I write this, pray this trend continues, try not to look over my shoulder...
And muse about how I survived the rigors of the Vermont College MFA program.
Two critical essays, twenty pages new creative, and twenty revised due each month for two years. How did I make all my deadlines? How did I carve out the time to write my critical thesis, and rewrite my novel multiple times while juggling meds, and countless doctor's visits, and holding the barf bucket? How, in the end, did I manage to graduate on time?
Certainly, part of my drive came from what Debby Dahl Edwardson observed on our class listserve--the fact that the VC program provides students with the permission to say no to PTO fund-raisers and yes to writing. And then there's the cheerleading and support I received from my program advisors Ellen Levine, Sharon Darrow, Jane Resh Thomas, and Tim Wynne-Jones. But while their mentoring was transforming, it was not the sole reason I kept going. Something else spurred me on. Something I can't quite articulate.
As E embraces this school year with gusto, I long to embrace whatever it was that kept me writing through the dark times. For the first time since the aneurysm, E's in such a good place. She's finally well enough to attend art club, Scouts, Sunday school...and her sister's choir concerts. I'm thrilled for her. And frustrated for me.
Here I sit. Free to embrace "Life After the MFA" to its fullest. I've got a book to finish, two editors who want to see it as soon as it's done, two classes to teach as soon as I give the word, a non-fiction book proposal an editor wants me to write. So much I want to do. So much potential.
Yet, in the distance, E's upcoming surgery rumbles like a rising storm. How do I write through this?