I took most of 2018 off to deal with the death of my brother. He would not have liked that, but you have to do what you have to do. As the one year anniversary approaches, I decided to peek out of the cave and reenter the world. Part of that is a website refresh. I've archived some of the old blogs that no longer apply and redone some of the basic look.
As far as writing goes, the second Ocean Series book and the fourth Team Apollo book are still on the board and I will get back to them. I also have a number of unrelated books on the progress board, including the Colchian Star series, Desert Wylde, To The Edge and Beyond, and a few more. Stay tuned to this website, my Facebook page, or join my email list for updates.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
This isn’t your typical status update, but it will explain why there have been no updates lately. I’m hoping it will not only give some insight into what I’m doing, but if you’re going through something similar, I hope you’ll understand you’re not alone.
My brother dealt with a variety of health problems from birth, when he was resuscitated twice, and needed assistance with daily life. Thankfully we had a local organization that could do that, so I could focus on hanging out with him, helping him through our mother’s death, and acting as his protector and advocate. Many of my major adult decisions were altered based on my lifelong mission, given to me by our mother, to be there for him.
On a Tuesday in February, he didn’t wake up.
I’m told what I’m facing is called “complicated grief”. Not only have we lost other family members in the last couple of years, and not only did I lose my dog of 11 years just weeks ago, but my relationship with my brother was very interwoven with my regular thought process. I don’t really know how to make major decisions without considering how they will impact him. So my brain metaphorically shut down, partly in self defense, and partly because it really doesn’t know what to do now. And because I like to make plans and decisions, I’m not doing my best when it comes to adjusting to this new life.
I will. Eventually. People do it all the time. At the moment it takes most of my capacity to do a good job at work, which leaves next to nothing for writing or anything like it once I’m home.
All of my works-in-progress remain. I simply don’t have the energy to handle them right now. I appreciate the patience. If you are going through something like this, I send you my very best. We will do this together.
Below is a thread I posted to Twitter that wraps up my feelings fairly well. I hope to be back on my game soon, but I’m in no position to promise for now.
“If he was here, my brother would be trying to talk me into a trip to Cowboys Stadium. But he’s not, because just over a month ago, he didn’t wake up. You learn a lot about grief in those small moments of realization. Like...
Even if your brother’s health indicated he wouldn’t live a long life, death is always brand new. It doesn’t matter how much you try to prepare, when it happens it is still a surprise.
You can feel great one moment and realize the next that you have been staring at the hotel room wall for the past hour. Grief is not linear. It sweeps along paths that don’t always seem to connect.
There’s missing your cousins who didn’t outlive you, there’s missing your mother who was taken by ALS, there’s missing lost friends, and there’s missing your special needs brother, and none are the same. Grief is liquid and fills each cup differently.
It puts you under the covers, reminds you what matters, makes you hate the air, reminds you to breathe. Grief is a monster who cuts you while he makes you appreciate that there are still days to grow. Both terrible and intrinsic to life.
Most importantly, the grief didn’t make the bad thing happen. It is the result. So don’t hate yourself for grieving. It’s just one of the hardest parts of the beauty of being human.”
I hadn’t been born when Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. I was too young to get a feel for Svetlana Savitskaya, or the first American woman in space, Sally Ride.
By January of 1986 I was six years old and could comprehend news stories and articles about the upcoming launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. When I saw a photo of Judy Resnik, taken on her first shuttle flight in 1984, I thought she was the coolest person alive. She had long, curly hair that stuck out in all directions in the reduced gravity of space, and had this air about her that made tiny me very happy.
When she died on Challenger on January 28, 1986, I didn’t know right away. My Catholic school was not watching the launch, and no one told me when I got home. I saw an article in the newspaper at my grandmother’s house instead. I wasn’t really sure what it all meant at that point, except for my grandmother’s explanation that the astronauts had “gone to heaven.”
All I knew was that I wanted to go to space, and Judith Resnik was the reason why.
I held on to that for quite some time. When Shannon Lucid made her second shuttle flight in 1989, I was much more capable of understanding the requirements. I was going to become an engineer, just like Judith Resnik. And to make myself even more appealing, I was going to become a pilot and join the Air Force. All on a direct forward trajectory to becoming an Astronaut Candidate.
Obviously, none of those things ever happened. I am not the shining example of what happens when a kid has a dream. Between an impressive lack of self-confidence and constant reminders that I needed to focus myself on ensuring a job that would pay my bills above all other things (and becoming an astronaut or a musician was not only not the way to do that, but an impossible goal to begin with), I never made it. And I never had another dream. I decided I liked designing, so I did it, because it would pay the bills. It wasn’t something I fantasized about while I sat outside under the stars. I started writing because I enjoy it, but there’s a reason I like to write about space. Writing about space is the closest I will get to going there.
Why bring it up, then? Because somewhere, there is a little girl who wants to go to space. Maybe she doesn’t know Judith Resnik, but has photos of Laurel Clark, Mae Jemison, Ellen Ochoa, Barbara Morgan, or Kalpana Chawla on her walls. Maybe she wants to be a pilot, an engineer, or a physicist.
For the love of all that’s good in the world, don’t tell her she can’t do it. Maybe she’ll be the type that takes that kind of block in stride and jumps over it, but she might be the type who runs head first into those blocks and fades a little with each hit, like I was. Teach her that she can be more than her surroundings, or her family’s past, or her looks, weight or any other arbitrary definition. Teach her that critical thinking is necessary, and it will help her think through the problems that come her way. Encourage her love of science, and don’t blow her off when she excitedly points to Polaris in the night sky. Teach her that the only things that bind her potential are within her own mind, and they can all be conquered.
The next Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Kathryn Sullivan, Anna Fisher, Margaret Seddon, Bonnie Dunbar, Mary Cleave, Liu Yang or Samantha Cristoforetti might just be sitting in your living room. Let her fly.