Saturday, November 22, 2008
My Thanksgiving Blog
One of the things I love about writing is that it’s something completely separate from my family life. Mine alone, it’s a world where I can escape and create characters and plots, explore passions and adventures utterly separate from my own experiences.
On the rare occasions the separation between the two worlds--real life and fiction--intersects, I’ve shared a few details from my personal life. I’ve blogged about being bi, since my books have many bi characters--a necessary ingredient for the steamy manlove in many of my ménage stories.
This fall, both of my daughters came out of the closet at school, after coming out to us this past summer. My younger daughter received universal support when she told her friends she’s bi. My older daughter lost a couple close friends when she told them she’s lesbian. Supporting them both through the coming out process has been an intense journey, and my focus on family this fall has pulled me away from some of my writing-related activities, like blogging.
All of that has at least tangential relevance to my writing, since I’m immersed in the LGBT world on a daily basis, so it’s natural to me that the characters in my erotic romances represent a range of sexual orientations. But today I’m going to break one of my own rules and talk about a part of my life with no relevance at all to being an author--other than it’s brought all promotional and writing activities to a screeching halt for awhile.
My younger daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic lung disease. At home, she uses a variety of treatments on a daily basis, and though treatment is time consuming (with lung clearance techniques to shake the extra mucus loose, and several daily aerosolized breathing treatments taken with a nebulizer), she’s been wonderfully healthy for a child with Cystic Fibrosis. Most people who know her don’t even realize she has CF. She’s a spunky kid, and doesn’t let anything slow her down.
Just over a week ago, she got a high fever in the middle of the night and was having a tough time breathing. A trip to her pediatrician the next morning revealed pneumonia on the X-rays, and got us a one way ticket to the hospital. She hadn’t been hospitalized since a two week stay when she was six weeks old, so in that sense we’ve been very fortunate. This past week we got a crash course in things like bronchoscopies and PICC lines for IV antibiotics. I stayed at the hospital with her, and my husband stayed with my older daughter. Now that we’re home, we’re continuing all of the treatments she was doing at the hospital, including learning how to give her IV antibiotics at home.
As we head toward Thanksgiving, I’m profoundly grateful that my family is home together again. Some of the kids who were in the hospital at the same time as my daughter will be there over the holidays. After the scary fever in the middle of the night last week, and the first few days at the hospital when we didn’t know what bacteria was causing the infection, or if the IV antibiotics would work, I’m more aware than ever that family is what it’s all about. I have a first draft for Pentacle of Storms waiting for revision, and a heap of promotion to catch up on for my November release, Fighting the Undertow. But for the moment, it’s all about helping a sick kiddo get through her treatments and keeping her spirits up until she’s feeling better.
And while I’m counting my blessings this week--with my two beautiful daughters right at the top of the list--I’ll take a moment to put in a word for the kindness of strangers. The doctors, respiratory therapists, and nurses who cared for my daughter at the hospital were wonderful with her--always kind, always patient.
I tend to be a tough cookie under stress, doing what needs to be done and keeping a positive attitude. But what choked me up this past week were the people who went out of their way to volunteer and make the hospital experience as positive as possible. Child Life volunteers checked in daily to let us know about activities in the playroom, bring my daughter games and DVDs, and see if we needed anything. The Sewing Ladies came to engage sick kids in a sewing project. Pet Pals volunteers brought their therapy dogs to visit--a wonderful experience for a young teen fiercely missing her poodle. And several community organizations and businesses catered “Family Meals” so that families of hospitalized children could sit down and enjoy a hot meal together.
As you head into the holidays, keep in mind that the volunteer work you do over the course of the year is appreciated by so many individuals who may never get the chance to thank you personally. Also keep in mind that children in many countries--as well as too many children close to home--don’t have the advantage of the excellent health care my daughter received. It’s a tight year, economically, but any amount you donate to your favorite charities will go a long way toward aiding those who need a helping hand.
If you have children, give them a great big hug this Thanksgiving. They’re so very precious. Same for your significant other, friends, and family. The economic news may be gloomy, but bottom line, when we’re counting our blessings, it’s all about the people we can throw our arms around. That’s something worth celebrating.