Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I've had a lot of time this summer to reflect.

Weekends, shuttling back and forth on the long hot expanse of I-5 blacktop that leads between Portland and my parent's farm as I watched the brain tumor slowly erase everything that made my father, my father.

Nighttime, sitting outside on the front steps that lead to the house I love, knowing that inside awaits the systematic dismantling of everything that made it a home.

Afternoons, brainlocked in my manuscript as I cut, smoothed, rewrote.

Here's what I've learned.

Although learned isn't the right word, not exactly. Instead I should say, here's what I've internalized.

Things happen in seasons. We can hold on tight or we can let go with grace. In the end, it doesn't matter what we choose because the tide that sweeps us along is stronger than whatever desperate grip or mental recalcitrance we can muster in its face.

Which isn't to say we are without choices. Far, far from it. The choices are endless. They stretch out in unending variety, waiting for us like a supersized bag of rainbow-colored Skittles, apparent the minute we open our eyes.

I'm at the end of my long summer of reflection.

My father is gone. My husband is set to return. Soon the house will be a vacant shell and our new lives in a suburban beltway town will begin.

I could spend the next three months burrowed inside myself waiting for a glimpse of sunshine or I could make my own. I can set our lives on launch speed, dive into our new community, the new book, new friends...everything that amounts to the next chapter (literally) with passion and energy.

It's a choice.

That's something else I've, not just realized or learned, but internalized. Life isn't guaranteed. No money back offers or refunds for less than satisfactory moments. It's up to me to devour it, create joy and savor all those little moments like they're a celebratory glass of Chateuneuf du Pape.

It's not just what my father would have wanted. It's what I want.

And understanding that, is the magic pill that makes all those choices go from impossible and invisible to crystal clear.


The Bookworm said...

I'm sorry about your father Johanna. Sending my thoughts and prayers.
What a beautiful and poignant post this morning.
"I could spend the next three months burrowed inside myself waiting for a glimpse of sunshine or I could make my own." You are so right.

Anne Gallagher said...

My prayers are with you and your family. It's such a hard thing -- yet loss is inescapable.

I hope you find that bright future with the sun shining down on your shoulders.

Julie Flanders said...

I'm so sorry about your father. I lost my dad last year and can understand what you're going through.

I found your post so touching. Here's to a very bright future.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Awwww.... so sorry about your father and the changes you're experiencing... but you have written so beautifully about it all. With that kind of attitude, you will no doubt find joy in the next part of your life. oxo

D.G. Hudson said...

Sorry to hear about your dad. It's never easy to lose our parents.

I know, both of mine are gone. I was so close to my mom, that it hit me the hardest, and longest. Find some form of commemorating that person - it helped me to make a memory album about my mother.

We do have to carry on, and make those right choices. Great post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said - it is all about choices and the attitude we take when making them.
So sorry about your father.

Hart Johnson said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Johanna-that's so hard. I'm glad you were close enough to spend time and have the chance to reflect what was happening. And I wish you luck with your huge move.

And THANK YOU for being willing to be a reader!!! I have started a list, so probably around Labor Day??? If that is a time that gets busy, shout, and I can send a less polished version a little earlier--labor day is my editor's deadline.

Unknown said...

As a parent the one thing we want is to have raised our children well. The choices you are making to go forward, despite your challenges, would make your dad proud. I am so sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

(((hugs))) Johanna.

Marjorie DeLuca said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. You really make us stop and think about our lives with this blog entry.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Only one thing we can control in life, and that's what resides between our ears. May you get through the upcoming changes.

Chuck said...

Sorry for your loss...I know from recent experience what it is like to lose a parent. I am enlightened by your post so there is your good deed for today!

Weaver said...

Oh, Johanna. This post made me cry. "let go with grace". Hard. But wise. My own mother died from a brain tumor when I was fourteen. *hugs*

Cecilia Robert said...

I'm so sorry, Johanna. You are in my prayers! And what a wonderful, moving post. Your post made me stop and think. Alot and in a good way, about taking life for granted. Thank you, Johanna! *hugs*

A Beer for the Shower said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father, but what you said hit the nail on the head beautifully. Make your own sunshine. As someone who doesn't (and sometimes feels like it's just going to happen, like it's 'owed' to him), I need to remember this more often.

Misha Gerrick said...

My condolences.

Those are great lessons you've internalized. I'll try to apply them to my life as well. :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

So sorry about your dad - it's so incredibly hard to go through what you've done. I'm so glad you've got to the place where you are though. Sending hugs & well wishes

Unknown said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my thoughts. Thanking you for sharing these lessons, and I hope that setting them free has brought you some peace. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Is this the Johanna I was on excahnge in Thailand with back in 1995? Please DM me to let me know and reconnect Whether you're an old friend, or a new one to make, my very deepest sympathies with respect to your Dad.