Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Live Like You Were Dying

In the last 7 days I've celebrated my birthday, seen Cyndi Lauper and Cher in concert, found out a friend died Sunday morning at the age of 53, and today mourn the loss of my husband's aunt.

Marian Hengerer was a lovely woman, a firecracker of personality. Her spirit and enthusiasm made you glad you were spending time in her company. At 92, her spirit had dimmed after health issues and surgery. She made the decision to leave the hospital and receive hospice care at home. She leaves behind a grieving family, including her 96-year-old husband, Bud. He was the oldest of three siblings and survived them all. She died on her own terms. We should all be so lucky.

Paul Norair wasn't. He died suddenly of a heart attack Sunday morning. His step-son works for my husband and called with the news Sunday afternoon. Ray had just seen him Friday night, and there was no warning that Paul would pass in less than 48 hours. He was a quiet man who was fun to be around, and a good man you could rely on. He'll be greatly missed. A short motorcycle run from his favorite bar to the funeral home will be his last ride.

We anticipate our birthdays and dread our death. We never know how much time we have, and we should fill our lives with experiences. Some are once-in-a-lifetime, others are more ordinary.

My birthday was a week-long celebration that began with seeing the Blue Angels at the Vero Air Show on May 11 and ended by being entertained by Cyndi and Cher on May 17; I celebrated every day in between.

And yet.

Death is inevitable.

We know death will come for all of us, and the lucky ones are those who have the courage to live their life and fulfill their dreams.

Some people know the end is near and get a chance to say goodbye to loved ones.

Most of us don't. We only know that our lives will end in the future, however near or far that may be.

Live your life as though you won't have tomorrow. Tim McGraw sings to "Live Like You Were Dying."

Take his advice.

Follow your dreams. Fall in love; take a new job; move to a new city. Take a risk.

What will you regret the most when the end comes: that you didn't achieve all of your dreams, or that you didn't even try?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is short. As in six words short.

A famous example, wrongly attributed to Ernest Hemingway:

    For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

This is heart-breaking because there's no good reason for baby shoes to not have been worn. In short stories, and especially in very short/flash fiction, it's often what's not said, that the reader fills in for herself, that makes it resonate. 

I had a breakthrough with a short story I've been struggling with. My Aha! moment? Realizing I need to change the point of view character. Seems like it shouldn't have taken the months it did, but sometimes you need to let things percolate before you find the answer. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! Celebrate your day Sunday, and know that you're appreciated every day of the year.