School's Done But Learning Continues
June 8, 2014We’ve had a beautiful spring here in South Carolina. It’s almost June now, so this can qualify as a Summer Newsletter. We were done with school on May 9, but I don’t have a lot to show for the past couple of weeks of free time. I’ve decided that’s a rigid and unsatisfying way to live, though—feeling compelled to trot forth a list of accomplished tasks to justify another few weeks of life on earth. As a reader named Barbara remarked in a recent email, it’s a good thing to enjoy “just being.”
Two days have passed since I wrote that first paragraph, during which time my husband and I have learned a new lesson in appreciating every day God gives us together. Yesterday after working in the yard for three hours, Dan sat down for lunch, ate everything on his plate, then clutched his chest and said, “I don’t feel so good.” Things sped by in a blur after that, and now he’s lying in a hospital bed a few feet away from me, recovering from an emergency catheterization during which a stent was inserted into a coronary artery that was 95% blocked. How grateful we are for doctors and medicine and hospitals, but most of all for God’s grace and protection through a frightening time.
A heart attack and hospital stay weren’t in our line-up of summer activities, but we humbly accept God’s plan and want to come out of this experience better than when we went in. The doctor told us that Dan’s artery is now “wide open,” and that’s what we want to be—wide open to whatever lessons God has for us. The doctor also said Dan should be able to resume his normal schedule when he gets home, which may be tomorrow or Sunday. I’m not sure, however, that the doctor knew that Dan’s “normal” schedule means going after things aggressively and for sustained periods, so I may have to do some serious monitoring in the days ahead.
Our summer plans, if God allows, will be fairly simple, the highlight being a trip to Indiana in July for a visit with our son, Jess, and his family in “the little brown house” they bought two years ago. Our daughter-in-law, Kalyn, will have July 4th weekend off, so we’ll enjoy celebrating with them. Svana, our granddaughter, will be 5 in September, and our grandson, Kjell, will have his first birthday in July. We haven’t seen them since January, except for all the wonderful photos we receive regularly, so we’re in need of some interactive grandparenting fun. Dan and I will probably take a few day trips close to home also. We have season passes to the Biltmore estate and never tire of those excursions.
My new book, To See the Moon Again, will be released by Penguin Publishers on September 2, and I’m already talking with a couple of different bookstore managers about scheduling book signings here in Greenville, SC, sometime in the early fall. The publisher recently sent me some “advance copies” of the book—typeset and bound, but without the official cover. It’s the real book, but plainly packaged and still containing a few uncaught errors we discovered during the final, last-chance proofreading.
These early copies are made available to book buyers and reviewers who can help a publisher promote a book and create some pre-publication enthusiasm. If anyone reading this newsletter has a public platform for book reviews or a network of contacts who might be interested in hearing about a new novel, I’d be willing to send you one of these advance copies. Just use the “contact” button on this website and let me know. Otherwise, I’ll have to give them away on street corners or leave them in waiting rooms to get rid of them.
Retirement is a concept I’ve never felt personally attracted to until recently. I don’t have an official date set, but more and more I’m thinking about bowing out of the classroom. I know I’ll miss teaching, but maybe not all the paper grading that goes with it. I’ll admit that I find it more challenging now to keep up with all the things that used to come so easily, and I’m intrigued by the idea of having more time to work with. Of course, all of my retired friends say the same thing: “I’m busier now than I’ve ever been!” I’ve heard it so often and with such sincerity that I totally believe it. So it’s not long, lazy stretches of time I’m dreaming of, but just the opportunity to fit in some new activities, a little more reading and writing, neglected home projects, visits with family and friends, maybe even a few well-planned meals every now and then.
In closing, just a quick word about Facebook. My husband created a Facebook page for me a few years ago and linked it to his page since he thought I needed to have a “presence.” I don’t have my own FB account, however, which is my choice. To be honest, I know myself well enough to know I would spend far too many of my few spare hours browsing everyone’s posts and comments, weighing in on topics of interest, admiring new photos, inventing a witty new status every day, and so forth. And I would totally love feeling like part of a social community, even a somewhat impersonal one. As I often say, everyone else’s life seems far more fascinating than my own. Anyway, I do have a Facebook page, created and somewhat maintained by my husband, but I never ever look at it. If people leave comments, Dan usually forwards them to me via email, and I always enjoy reading them but don’t respond.
So here’s the point of my Facebook ramblings. If you ever have a question or want to be sure I get a message, a better way to contact me directly is through the “contact” button mentioned earlier, the one on this website. Those messages come straight to me, and I try to respond to each one.
I’m writing the last paragraph of this newsletter on June 8, 2014—two weeks after starting the first paragraph. Dan is feeling good, and we're rejoicing in each new day. In some ways these fourteen days have been forgettably unstructured, but in other ways very emotional and life-changing. Though many details have already fallen out of my head, this one thing I know: God is good.