Shedding Light on LIGHT BRINGER

Right before he died, Jeff told me that since I had written such good books, it was my responsibility to see that they sold. I’m glad I don’t have to admit to him how dismally I am doing, especially with Light Bringer. Light Bringer was originally published as a memorial to him on the first anniversary of his death, and republished a few days short of the anniversary five years later. Although the book had been written while he was still alive, it was the first novel I wrote that he didn’t get to read, so I’d like others to read it in his place, hence this spate of blog posts about this special book.

Light Bringer begins ordinarily enough with strange lights in the sky, a way too precocious baby, NSA agents coming to the door of a man’s apartment, the man being rescued by an invisible owl-like creature and miraculously finding himself in the same town where a youngish woman is searching for the mystery surrounding her birth. (These sorts of “ordinary” things do happen to you every day, don’t they?)

It ends with the two protagonists, a bevy of antagonists, a ghost cat, the invisible owl man, and a whole slew of conspiracy theorists all clashing in a resounding riot of color in a secret laboratory far underground in Western Colorado. Whew! I didn’t give anything away, but I didn’t exactly get this into a one-sentence response as to what Light Bringer is about.

If I tell people Light Bringer is my magnum opus, they get a glazed look in their eyes, but the truth is, I spent my whole life doing research for this book, though of course, I didn’t know the research would culminate in a such a story. I just went where the research took me.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no true genre for this novel. Talk of crashed space ships and aliens make this seem like science fiction, but oddly, the book was never meant to be anything other than a way of putting together the puzzle of our origins, relying heavily on Sumerian cosmology and modern conspiracy myths.

In “Light Conquers All,” a guest post I did for Malcolm R. Campbell, author of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, The Sun Singer, and the proud owner of even more blogs than I have, I talked about the plot demanding “extensive information about mythology, conspiracies, UFOs, history, cosmologies, forgotten technologies, ancient monuments, and color. Especially color. Color is the thread connecting all the story elements, and all the colors have a special meaning. (You can find a brief listing of color meanings here: The Meaning of Color.)”

L. V.Gaudet, author of The McAllister Series, reposted her review of Light Bringer today to help me bring attention to the book. Check it out on her blog:  https://lvgwriting.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/book-review-light-bringer-by-pat-bertram/.

Click here to read the first chapter of Light Bringer.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Advertisements

A Gift of Frankincense and Myrrh

Once, long ago and far away, three wise men gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to a baby. Today, a wise woman gave me a gift of frankincense and myrrh, which could prove as valuable as gold if they work as promised to relieve the pain of my poorly functioning hand.

It seems odd to know of those ancient substances without ever knowing what they were or what they were for. Seems even odder to take the story of the wise men and their gifts for granted. I mean, really — would you bring something so obscure to a baby shower? No, you’d stick with something practical like . . . I don’t know . . .  whatever is practical to give to a baby. But perhaps those aromatics weren’t merely valued for their scents. (I think that is what we were told, I don’t really remember.) Maybe the frankincense and myrrh were valued for medicinal purposes, for keeping the baby healthy and the mother pain-free.

One of the many weird aspects of growing older is the way the body’s fat migrates. The protective fat pads from my feet and hands have disappeared, which makes long distance walking painful (the tops of my feet, oddly, not the bottoms). Perhaps these gifts from the wise woman will enable me to ramble again (though, admittedly, when I did ramble for hours, it was not during a time I was taking dance classes. Those classes range from an hour on the shortest day to four hours on the longest day, as well the mile walk to and from class, so I am not actually as lazy as I think I am).

If nothing else, these mythic gifts bring me a wonderful feeling of strange, as if somehow I am connected to the ancient story of the magi and that journey they took so very long ago.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

We Can Only Write the Novels Only We Can Write

Of all the books I’ve written, the one that saddens me the most is Light Bringer because it never got the notice I thought it deserved. I don’t know what happened — perhaps I never knew how to categorize it, perhaps I am terrible at marketing. Perhaps a lot of things. But there it sits, a magical novel without much of a readership.

I understand the importance of categorizing novels — giving them a genre — because people like to know what they are getting. But what if the novel you wanted to write doesn’t fit within a genre? Are we supposed to not write it?

But truly, we can only write the novels only we can write.

To me, Light Bringer was mythic fiction — a story based on ancient cosmologies and modern conspiracy theories, but mention of ancient spacecraft and aliens made people want to throw it in the science fiction category, while secret government installations and covert international organizations made others think of it as thriller fare. And yet it is neither. Nor, despite the romances in the book, is it a romance. (It surprised me, but my father, who was not much of a fiction reader, understood all that.)

Writing the book, I never once considered genre. Well, come to think of it, that’s not true. In the very beginning, I thought naively of writing a book that fit all genres, but apparently that is an idea many neophyte writers come up with, and is considered the mark of an amateur. So I stopped trying to fit all genres into the book (though I did keep my cowboy character from the western elements and the ghost town and ghost cat from the horror genre.) I just wrote the book. I didn’t even have to do much research — so much of the book was based on my lifetime of studies into lesser known histories (also known erroneously as conspiracy theories), though I did research color and their meanings because color played a major role in the book, as the following excerpt will show:

After following the path for several minutes, they came to a place where the stream narrowed to no more than four feet. Chester bent over and began hauling out one of the boards stashed beneath a Douglas fir. The boards, withered a silvery-gray, were two inches thick, ten inches wide, and about six feet long.

With Rena and Philip helping Chester, it took only a few minutes to place the boards bank-to-bank, forming a makeshift bridge.

“I set these here for Gertie after she slipped and hurt herself wading across the stream,” Chester said.

Rena turned to Philip. “Gertie used to own this place.”

“She was my godmother. When she died, I dismantled the bridge.” Chester looked from the planks to Rena and Philip and then back again as if trying to make a decision. “I don’t know if you’ll like the place. Most people avoid it. They say it makes them shivery. Some even call it the devil’s garden, but me and Gertie called it . . . blessed.”

Rena touched the old man’s arm. “I’m sure we will, too.”

Chester nodded. He stepped onto the plank bridge and proceeded to the other side. Rena followed him, then turned and smiled encouragingly at Philip.

“It’s surprisingly sturdy. You won’t have any problem.”

A clear blue nimbus of trust emanated from Philip. Without hesitation, he clumped across the bridge.

In the full of the sun, the meadow grasses shone emerald. “Hurry, hurry,” they whispered.

I’m coming.

Rena set off at a run.

“There’s a pathway,” she heard Chester call.

She kept running, needing no footpath to lead her to their destination. She could feel the music tugging at her, guiding her, singing her forward.

At first a faint red trumpeting, the music swelled into a full orchestra: orange church bells, yellow bugles, green violins, blue flutes, indigo cellos, violet woodwinds.

Beneath it all, she could hear the grasses murmuring, “Hurry, hurry.”

And then there it was, spread out before her in a shallow thirty-foot bowl. A lake of flowers—chrysanthemums and tulips, daisies and daffodils, lilies and columbines and fuchsia—all blooming brightly, all singing their song of welcome.

Standing on the brink, waiting for Philip and Chester, she could not lift her gaze from the flowers. Many of them were familiar, but others, in seemingly impossible tints and shades, were new. She inhaled, filling her nose with the intoxicating scent, and felt herself losing her balance as if she were drunk. She flung out an arm to steady herself, and barely missed hitting Chester.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“More than okay.”

Philip came to stand beside her. Hearing his sharp intake of breath, she knew he felt as stunned as she by the sight, sound, smell of the flowers.

Knowing Chester needed to hear the words, she said softly, “You and Gertie are right. The place is blessed. Thank you for bringing us.”

If you would like to read more of this magical book, you can find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Light-Bringer-Pat-Bertram-ebook/dp/B004U39WQ6/. And hey, if you can think how to categorize it, let me know!

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Pleasure Banking

We are often asked, “Business or pleasure,” especially when travelling — at hotels, border patrol checkpoints, and airlines. The phrase has become so ubiquitous, that when I drove past a Citizen’s Business Bank, I immediately wondered about a Citizen’s Pleasure Bank.

Sometimes there seems to be a surfeit of good things, especially those that come all at once, and it’s hard to appreciate each pleasure appropriately. Well, with pleasure banking, you can have your cake, and eat it, too. In a manner of speaking. In the example of cake, you can always eat a piece and freeze the rest, but what about all the glorious sunsets you were too jaded to go out to see, the travels that you were too tired to enjoy, the funny antics of children or pets that inexplicably annoyed you, the friends who visited when you wanted to be alone? With pleasure banking, you could experience the pleasure when it would be most pleasurable for you. Perhaps you could even gain interest on the pleasurable occurrence before you take it out of the the bank to live it.

We do have a memory bank, of course, but the interest gained on remembered experiences is not compounded the same way as an experience we are currently living. With pleasure banking, though, when you finally claimed the deferred pleasure, it would be a true experience, not a memory. At least not until after you experienced it.

I doubt I would have much to deposit — I try to live for the day, and if I’m too tired to enjoy, I would still hang to on the pleasure, no matter how unpleasurable it is at the moment. Also, I would worry that in the future, interest would decline, and the pleasure would be even less pleasant. Still, even though I enjoyed every day of my cross country road trip, if I had been able to save some of the driving days where nothing much happened except driving, today I would be able to experience the zen-like nature of highway driving without actually having to leave my room.

At the pleasure bank, would also be able to borrow other people’s pleasures, and as with monetary banking, those pleasures will still be there for the person who deposited them. So, while I might not want to defer my own pleasures, I sure would love to experience some of the wonders of the world depositors might have saved, without my actually having the tedium of travelling to far distant places. (Hmmm. Makes me wonder how the accountants of the pleasure bank would determine the cost. Pleasure minus tedium, perhaps. Or maybe you’d have to pay more interest for pure pleasure without the tedium.)

So, would you open an account in a pleasure bank? If so, what would you deposit there? What would you borrow?

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Authority

All my life, or at least all my life that I can remember, I wanted to be an author. When I was much younger, I wrote allegories and parables, stories that mimicked children’s books but with messages for adults. I also wrote snippets of poetry, such as this one:

In a strange sort of way
It’s comforting to know
That no matter what we do to this earth
It well accept and accept
Until it comes to the end of its resources
And then, as though we were no more
Than an unwanted cloak
It will shrug us off
And begin again

Not that there is any particular significance to this poem, it’s just the only one I found on my computer.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided to become serious about writing. I quit a job, sat down at the kitchen table, put a pen to paper and waited for the story to come. I knew what I wanted to write — a novel about a love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with sensitivity and great wisdom — but no words came. I had always assumed that writing a book was sort of like automatic writing, and for many authors it is. When that approach to writing failed, I tried to pull the words out of my head one by one, in an attempt at telling the story. Unfortunately, I discovered I had no talent for writing and no wisdom, either, so I gave up writing.

Many years later, I decided the heck with it — talent or no, wisdom or no, I wanted to write. And so I did. That first book is so spectacularly bad that it is packed away where even I can’t see it. But I am not one to do things haphazardly, so I kept on writing, kept studying books on how to write (most of which made no sense to me). And gradually I learned.

I thought writing would help solve my financial woes (I can hear you writers out there laughing at such naiveté), and even though I did find a publisher (after 200 rejections), I never did find the pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow.

Besides financial gain, I’m not sure what I wanted by being an author. Acclaim? I don’t know if I ever did want much acclaim (being of a rather self-effacing nature), but I wanted something. Maybe the knowledge that huge numbers of people loved my books. Maybe respect. Maybe to make a difference. I don’t know. Still don’t, actually. (I guess I figured that if I made a living by writing, whatever else I wanted would come along with it.

And then Jeff died. When I discovered that few writers (including writers who write about grief) understood the devastating nature of losing a life mate/soul mate, I decided to blog about my grief, how it felt, how it changed my world, how I learned to live again.

As it turned out, for a small group of people — those who had also lost their mates — I made a difference. Even today, years after they were written, those grief posts are still making a difference, helping the bereft understand what they are going through, offering the words to describe what they themselves can’t describe, showing them that no matter what other people tell them, their long period of grief is not only understandable and normal, but is a necessity. Would you really want the person you loved more than anything in the world to disappear without tears and sorrow? No, off course not. Our pain is a way of honoring them. And, despite what people say, grief is not emotional, or at least not just emotional. It’s physical, spiritual, intellectual, hormonal, chemical — it affects every single part of ourselves and our life.

It awes me at times to think that my words matter to people. It awes me at times to reread those old posts when someone leaves a comment and realize how . . . inspired . . . they were. Maybe there is a bit of that automatic writing going on after all. How else would I be able to be a conduit for such wisdom and understanding and even author-ity?.

And so, after all, it turns out I really am an author — a person with the ability to influence others and to make their lives easier.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Blogging for Peace and Other Matters

It’s only the second day since my resolve to blog every day until the end of the year, and I’m already finding excuses why I should bail on idea. Too tired. No ideas. Nothing to say.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve been planning on doing a follow-up to the Blog4Peace project I participated in on November 4th, but the drift of life had me in its grip. I suppose now is as good a time as ever to offer my retrospective, even though that day is long past.

I’ve been a peace blogger since 2012, though I’m not sure why I decided to participate in the first place. I don’t believe in “world peace” as a cause. People always talk about the human race as if we are warmongers, and yes, some people are, most notably those who make money and take power from wars, but think about it. How many wars have you personally started? For the most part, we (you and me, anyway) are peace lovers. We shy away from violence. Most of us don’t even start personal conflicts, though sometimes we do unwillingly get involved in contretemps we don’t quite know how to end.

Nor do I believe that nature itself is peaceful.

Just think about it — there you are, having a nice pleasant walk through the woods, having a picnic in a meadow, or perhaps standing on top of a mountain. All is peaceful. Or is it? If your ears were hypersensitive, as is the hero from my decade-old work-in-progress:

All seemed silent, still.

His ears became attuned to the quiet, and he heard insects cricking and chirring and buzzing.

Then other sounds registered, sounds so faint several seconds passed before he comprehended what he was hearing: the relentless hunger of nature. The larger prairie creatures and the most minute devoured each other in a cacophony of crunching, tearing, ripping, gnashing, grinding.

At the realization he was sharing space with things that must be fed, he took a step backward and bumped into a tree, a gnarled oak that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Leaning against the ancient tree, he heard the roots reaching out, creeping, grasping, wanting, needing. He jerked away from the tree and fell to hands and knees. Blades of grass moaned under his weight, and the screams of wildflowers being murdered by more aggressive vegetation almost deafened him.

He opened his mouth to add his own shrieks to the clamor, but closed it again and cupped his ears when he became aware of a long sonorous undulation deep beneath the ground. The heartbeat of the earth.

Yeah. Peace.

If we expand peace to a microscopic or even a cosmic plane, we see a stasis created by opposite but equal forces in conflict.

And yet . . . and yet . . .

On November 4, hundreds, maybe thousands of people were peacefully blogging about peace, creating peaceful images, sharing peaceful words, contemplating peace, visiting each other’s peace blogs. A lovely day. A peaceful day.

We may not have stopped wars or violence. We may or may not have attained peace within ourselves, may or may not have been at peace with our world.

But we mattered.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Fifty Day Blog Challenge

Ever since I finished my two latest books a year ago (Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinshed, I haven’t done much writing. Not much blogging, either (though technically, blogging is writing, so I shouldn’t separate the two.). There’s always been an excuse. A shattered arm/wrist/elbow. A fuzzy mind from opioids. (I used to think I had an addictive personality, but I guess not — I was glad when I finally was able to handle the pain and stop taking pain pills.) And then there was the very hot summer. (The air conditioning in this room I am renting is minimal, and I was too hot to think. But then, I didn’t feel like thinking anyway since I seem to be in a drifting mode.)

Well, enough of the excuses, and more than enough of the parenthetical comments!

When I mentioned my non-writing to a friend, she said, “Well, write something.” Since I always try to do what people request (unless, of course, I am in a rebellious mood), here I am.

In 2011, I participated in a hundred day blog challenge: to post something every day on each of the last 100 days of the year. The time is long past to be able to duplicate that challenge, but coincidentally, I just discovered there are 50 blogging days until the end of 2017, and since I love even numbers, coincidences, and serendipity, I decided to try an abbreviated challenge.

And challenge it will be. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and making a commitment goes against the drift, but what the heck. I never let a lack of wisdom stop me from blogging before.

All this is by way of warning for those of you who follow this blog. Today and the coming forty-nine days are more for me, just for the discipline of it. I don’t expect you to read or comment on my meanderings, (especially not this blog post), but if you desire to do so anyway, I will be glad of the company.

And maybe I will even be glad of a chance to stop the drift. Just drifting has been good for me, but it doesn’t really accomplish much, and before I leave my current place (the road — and an epic adventure — is calling to me), I would like to finish the book I started a decade ago, clear out some of the stuff in my storage unit that I haven’t been able to get rid of yet, become strong enough physically to go hiking again, and oh, so many things!

So, this is a start.

Perhaps.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Today, along with thousands of people all over the world, I am blogging for peace. If words matter, this is important.

People always talk about the human race as if we are warmongers, and yes, some people are, most notably those who make money and take power from wars, but think about it. How many wars have you personally started? For the most part, we (you and me, anyway) are peace lovers. We shy away from violence. Most of us don’t even start personal conflicts, though sometimes we do unwilling get involved in contretemps we don’t quite know how to end.

Although I don’t think we can do much on an individual basis to bring global peace, we can try to find peace within ourselves. If all on this earth were at peace with themselves and those they see every day, then our human world would be at peace.

And that is what I wish for you today — peace in all you behold.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Shoes. Sheesh.

I normally try to write blog posts that touch on my insights, things I’ve learned, or questions I have about life — not just my life, but life in general. Occasionally, I even mention issues that irk me, but never, as far as I can remember have I talked about something so shallow as shoes.

I do blog about what is on my mind, though, no matter the depth of the topic, and today shoes are on my mind.

I have three pairs of shoes I’ve been wearing — one pair is completely worn out, one hurts the tops of my feet, and one hurts my heels. I still wear them because, well, shoes. Mostly, though, I wear them because I can almost never find shoes to fit. But now that it’s cooler, I need shoes I can wear for walking more than a mile or two, so off I went to hunt the wild shoe.

One store I planned to go to has disappeared, perhaps a victim of the trend toward internet shopping, though how anyone can buy shoes online, I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency to size, as this little fable will show.

I was left with two stores: a national shoe store chain and a sporting goods store. At the national chain, I found one pair that seemed comfortable, but I couldn’t figure out where my toe was since the top of the toe seemed to be reinforced. I asked the salesclerk if she could tell where my toe ended. She felt the toe and said there was plenty of room. Yay!

Still, since I was in shoe shopping mode, I stopped by the sporting goods store. The first thing I saw was a pair of hiking shoes on sale for less than half price. They seemed a bit big, but thick hiking socks should make them fit. (Not that I’ve been doing any hiking, but ridiculously, I still think about doing an epic hike.)

Figuring I was on a roll, I tried on various other shoes and ended up buying a couple of pairs that fit as well as any shoe in a store ever fits.

The next day, I decided to try on the first pair of shoes I bought, and after walking around the house for a few minutes, I realized the left shoe was so short, it was cramping my toe. So I packed those shoes back in their box, and tried on another pair. Or tried to. I couldn’t even fit my foot into the shoe. And the third pair was huge.

As if that wasn’t weird enough, each pair of shoes was a different size. (For comparison, my foot measures 7 1/2.) The size 8 shoe was excessively wide. The size 8 1/2 was too short. The size 9 shoe was remarkably small.

Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? The grim sort. Or maybe a fable, but if it is a fable, I have no idea what the moral could be. I’ve gleaned no insights. Learned nothing.

I returned all the shoes except the hiking shoes, which puts me back at the beginning, with only shoes that hurt or are worn out. So . . . more shopping. Someday.

Shoes. Sheesh.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Seven Years and Seven Months

Seven years and seven months ago, Jeff, my lifemate/soulmate, died after a long illness, catapulting me out of not only our coupled life, but the very house we shared for decades. After dismantling our home, getting rid of what I could and packing the rest, I went to stay with my father, who needed someone to be there for him. Although he was mostly able to look after himself, he was getting feeble enough that he needed someone in the house to make sure he was okay. And me, being newly loose in the world, undertook the task. If he were alive, my father would be over a hundred years old, but he died three years ago today, and once again I was catapulted out into the world.

I’ve become somewhat of a nomad, or maybe I should say a serial nester. In the past three years, I’ve lived over a dozen places (and those are only the places I’ve stayed more than a couple of weeks. If you include places I stayed a week or less, they are too numerous to count.) Because I’ve spent most of the past couple of decades taking care of friends and relatives, my financial situation is precarious, so I should be trying to find a place to settle down and get a job, but . . . well, I’m not. After the emotional rigors of the past ten years (starting with Jeff’s rapid decline and my mother’s death and ending with the fall eleven months ago that pulverized my left wrist, destroyed my left elbow, and smashed my radius, leaving me with a deformed arm, and wrist and fingers that don’t quite work the way they should), it’s nice to just go with the flow — not trying to do anything, not trying to think anything, not trying to push my recalcitrant spirit into a semblance of vitality. Just drifting.

Occasionally I correspond with the newly bereft who discover me through my book, Grief: The Great Yearning. They appreciate knowing they aren’t alone in how they feel, and they seem to find solace in my words. And that’s all I have left of grief now — just words. (Well, that and compassion. Not everyone comprehends the total horror that one lives through after the death of the one person you shared everything with, the one person who anchored you to life, the one person who understood you.)

Oddly, in the same way that I can no longer “feel” the exact pain of my arm when it shattered, I can no longer actually “feel” the pain of new grief. I remember not being able to breathe. Not being able to think. Not being able to get a grip on the immense agony of my grief. I remember feeling as if I were standing on the brink of the abyss, remember thinking that if I reached out far enough, I could still touch Jeff. But I cannot actually recall the feeling of new grief itself.

Even more oddly, I’m not sure if the man in my memory is the real Jeff. Has my memory of him changed over the years to fulfill his changing role in my life? I no longer know, and don’t want to know. To try to resurrect the real him, if only in memory, will eventually lead to losing him again, and that I can’t handle.

So I drift.

I am doing what I can to exercise my hand, wrist, elbow — I won’t gain the maximum usage of the joints for another year, so I am still diligently following instructions. And I am still taking dance classes. And slowly, I am gaining strength, better balance, and maybe even a modicum of grace.

What I have not been doing is writing, even though finishing my decade-old work not-in-progress tops my to-do list (or would top my to-do list if I had one. A to-do list seems the antithesis of drifting.)

Although today is the anniversary of my father’s death, it is Jeff I think of. If Jeff hadn’t died, I would never have gone to take care of my father, would never be where I am today.

Drifting.

This photo is twenty years old, the only one ever taken of me, Jeff, and my parents. Although I am the only one still alive, that “me” in the photo is long gone. I don’t even remember being her. Maybe she’s just as lost as the other three.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.