I've never liked the Forrest Gump "Life is like a box of chocolates" analogy. While it's true that you never know what you're gonna get, let's face it, there is never a shit flavored chocolate in the box. They don't make a reality flavored box of chocolates. It would taste too bad.
I look at my life as traveling along a road. Sometimes it's a regular paved road. Comfortable, with no surprises. Other times its filled with danger - quicksand, sink holes, wild animals ready to tear you apart. Life gives you a variety of roads. I've walked on gold plated roads and ones so covered in dog shit that there's no way to avoid it. That's the way life is. We can only hope the bad stretches are shorter in duration.
Last fall it was clear that I'd left the paved road behind and was traveling along a steep rocky path alongside a cliff with no side barriers. My revisions were never good enough for my agent, my mother needed surgery, and my sister-in-law entered a long term stay in the Intensive Care Unit. My husband's only sister had a successful bone marrow transplant to cure her leukemia, only to suffer from host-vs-graft disease for nearly 2 years. But she's so strong, so tough. I'd never met anyone so determined to beat a disease. After all, she'd so much to live for. A beautiful little girl who's just turned 8 years old and possibly the most wonderful husband a woman could ask for.
In December, a small earthquake shook the road, leaving craters to carefully navigate. Isn't it always the case that right before the holidays, when you most need the extra cash, your car will break down or your garage door breaks, etc? Then the week of Christmas, with no internet or phone service, I stood in 27 inches of snow a block from my house in order to get email on my iphone. That's how I found out that once again my agent didn't agree with the direction of my revision and suggested another agent might be better for me. A week later we got the news that my sister-in-law was failing.
Last Friday, she passed away quietly in her sleep. She'd held on so her daughter could enjoy her birthday party the week before and play in her first ever basketball game. My last memory of her was when she was still conscious, grasping my hand strongly, smiling her beautiful smile and thanking me for taking care of her daughter.
Life has a way of reminding us of what's most important. Family and love and our dreams. Before she had her daughter, it was my sister-in-law's greatest wish to have a little girl that she could raise into beautiful young woman. Even in the hospital, her hopes and wishes were centered around going home and being a good mother. Going shopping with her daughter, attending her piano recital's, buying dresses, taking her for hair cuts and manicures, watching her grow - looking forward to prom. It's a dream that can't come true not because she didn't do everything in her power to make it happen, but because her body failed her. But she never gave up hope. She never stopped believing that she'd get home someday.
This is a lesson that I have taken to heart. I will not give up on my own dream. Not until my own body fails me. I will keep trying. Because she never gave up. Through the worst pain and suffering a person can endure, she never gave up hope. For her sake, I can't give up either. I will take over her dreams and see that her daughter is loved and cared for as one of my own, that I am there for my niece whenever she needs me, just as her mother would have been. I'll also see my own dream through and continue to seek out a new agent or go back to the editors who were interested in seeing a revision myself. And I hope that I'll find someone who, like my wonderful critique readers, loves my new MS. And if and when my book gets published, I will dedicate it to my sister-in-law whose beautiful and strong spirit will forever be my inspiration.