He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. ~Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Conditions of the Heart, Part II and 2016 Final Thoughts

The end of 2016 is upon us and I'm both extremely happy to see it go, and extraordinarily grateful for all that it has brought me. Here are some end of year thoughts...

WARNING: sentimental/personal stuff forthcoming. Can't be helped...

As some of you might recall, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with a heart condition--Wolff Parkinson White--back in July after a terrifying visit to the ER. I wrote about it here--->Conditions of the Heart  An MRI was taken in late September, the results of which revealed two more disorders. That means her little heart has three separate, unrelated conditions. Three too many.

I don't know what all these diagnoses will mean. She's not ill all of the time. Her disorders aren't dangerous until they are, and so it becomes a waiting and watching game. A tiny flicker of fear that burns constantly in my own heart, along with a fervent hope it never roars into something worse.

She asks me sometimes why she has these heart issues (and scoliosis) and I have no good answer. She doesn't feel sorry for herself; her hallmark trait is not self-pity, but selflessness toward others. She is a 9 year old champion of homeless people: she gets mad at me if we pass a homeless person and I don't have any cash on me to give to them. She empathizes with kids in her class who are picked on or lonely (though she sometimes falls into that latter category). She once arranged for the school counselor to come and talk to her class about being nice to kids who are emotionally different than they are, to defend a classmate who had been ostracized.

She has a big heart, in other words. I just wish her real one was as perfect.

But I'm grateful her situation isn't worse. I'm grateful for a lot of things The outpouring of love for my books, not the least of it.  The reviews and lists astound me, and I am beyond grateful for the community of readers, friends, and bloggers (most of whom wear all three titles) who have been so good to me. I cannot express enough my gratitude to you. It's a blessing to be able to say, "My work and its community sustain me." I'm so lucky in that respect and I love you all for keeping me afloat, while the fear and panic of my daughter's situation zig-zagged in between, up and down, winding this way and that--a strange roller coaster of high, high climbs and scarily plunging downs. In what other profession would I have this kind of personal, emotional connection? What other job allows for you to sell a product and receive friendship and community in return? It may sound overly sentimental but fuck it. It's the absolute truth.

That is one of the greatest gifts and why 2016 was as special as it was scary, uncertain, and a thief of far too many beloved artists.

My sincerest wish for all of us in 2017 is that it brings joys that vastly outweighs any lows. I suspect turbulent times are ahead for the world, but we need to stick together, yeah? That's how we get through stuff. That's how I got through...everything, basically, and I hope I can be as much of a help to anyone who needs it in the same way I have been supported. And I have been. By people I have never met face to face, and yet whom I dearly love. I want to take their kindness and my daughter's example of compassion (and always carry cash!) and pay it back in word and by deed, or at the very least, to channel it all into my work. My next book is about the power of forgiveness, of how even small kindnesses can create huge change, and, of course, love.

Because love always wins, right? Yes, it damn well does. Always.