Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Five Days to the Finish Line - Wounds

I remember when I had five weeks of training left. But then I got a cold, and then I fell, and then I had . . . “Okay, we’ve heard all about your sniffles and swollen ankle, Kathy. What else do you have for us today?”

We can talk about wounds. Big ones. Little ones. Even medium sized. Some have stitches. Some are covered with only a band aid. We have all kinds, don’t we? They make us sore and sick. But the emotional wounds are the worst, I think. Why? Because we aren’t aware of the damage they do to our body. Stress can make our hair fall out and pounds to melt away or accumulate. Our faces soon look ragged and our clothes don’t fit. And the changes exacerbate our stress.

I’ve certainly had my share of wounds. Recovering from my husband’s suicide was not easy. It’s been over a decade now, almost a decade and a half, but what I’ve learned in the past six months, would have made dealing with grief easier, if that’s possible.

Running forced me outside. Not only outside the house but outside of myself and maybe that’s why I had to take a break from writing—to gain a new perspective. When running down the street, you can’t help but notice the beauty in the fall, winter, and spring. It’s very different to immerse yourself in the ever changing environment, feeling the wind and cold and sun on your face, than to watch the seasons change from your window.

Kit MacKlenna, the heroine in THE RUBY BROOCH, has been going through a season of grief when the story opens. Her grief is compounded when she discovers that her birth family (of which she knew nothing about) died more than 160 years earlier.

The following is an excerpt.

The scene opens with the Barrett family carving their names in Chimney Rock's sandstone. Kit has a flashback of the accident that killed her parents and she faints. The excerpt picks up when she recovers from the spell as her friend, Sarah Barrett, pours out words of wisdom concerning grief and recovery.

“Tell me what happened,” Sarah asked.
“I was drawing a picture of your family, but instead of sketching John’s face, I drew my father’s. Then I was back in the car—” She stopped before she revealed too much. After a moment, she continued. “Life is so uncertain, and there're do-overs."
Sarah laid the washcloth aside and pulled a chair next to Kit. Their knees pressed together, layers of cotton softened the bone-to-bone touch. Sarah’s rough, work-worn hands patted Kit’s warmly. “You know what it means to be free. That’s what you feel when you ride your horse, but I’m not sure you understand freedom. If you did, you wouldn’t be stuck in pain’s clutch. You’re hurting. I see it in your eyes. But you’ll heal. You’ll be whole again.”
Sarah sat back in her chair with a sigh. “Your story is a tapestry with intricate detail work. Sadness is woven throughout with different shades of gray threads. It’s time to open your heart and let joy weave bright colors through your masterpiece.”
Sally held up her hand to silence Kit. “I can’t promise we’ll all make it to Oregon, but I promise we’ll stay together and see this through to the end. You can’t give up. Keep in your heart the knowledge that we walk through the valley of the shadow. We don’t stay there. Take this journey and every journey one day at a time.”
Kit wiped away her tears, overwhelmed by the depth of Sarah’s wisdom.
“Cullen should be ready for supper. Wash your face now and take him dinner. We’ll talk again.”
Kit carried A plate of food to Cullen and sat on the tailgate waiting for him to wake. A low sweep of clouds reminded her of home. Sunset on the farm was like no other, especially in early fall when the cool air whipped through the trees, sprinkling a treasure of gold over the bluegrass. While she missed home, she wasn’t ready to return.
The low rumble of his voice pulled her from her thoughts. “Either I’m sicker than I thought, or something else has upset you.”
She swung around. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”
“Seen you sit there before with a straight back and square shoulders, swinging your legs. You don't look like that now.”
She stood and stepped to his side. “If you can read me so well, tell me what you see.”
He studied her face. “A woman full of life and love but afraid to live it. Afraid to feel it.”
“Ouch. Sorry I asked.”
He took the plate from her hands and set it aside, then pulled her down to sit on the bed beside him. “You're much more than you appear to be.” He traced the veins in her hand with his fingertips. “You pour gifts out on others, but you tenaciously guard your heart.” He brought her hand to his lips and kissed the inside of her wrist. His warm breath sent tingles up her arms and across her shoulders. “No one can give you the reassurance you want.”
Beneath a growth of whiskers, his face had thinned, but his voice held calmness and compassion that spoke from the soul of the man enshrouded in layers of a complex personality. 
“I got the same lecture from Sarah. Most of the time I’m fine, but then the grief and guilt hit me, and I feel like I’m starting all over.” 
He caressed her hand. “You’re not starting over. I see healing in your eyes, which I might add, don’t have tears at the moment. And you’re not biting your lip to keep them away, either.” 
Was it true? Was she really getting better? Or was she just hanging on until the next big wind sucked her into another vortex. Another big wind was on its way. Every healed bone in her body told her so.
Happy writing and running, and may your masterpiece be woven together with beautiful colors, Kathy

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