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So, I have been engrossed in writing the sequel to North of the Tension Line, and then, this past month, immersed in a long and lovely visit from family.

But it has been the writing, mainly, that has engaged my entire heart and mind these past eighteen months. I have done nothing but go to work and write, and in the process have ignored everything from friendships to laundry, and all the common attentions to little things that comprise daily life. The weight of a deadline was heavy, and I simply did not have room in my head for anything else.

With the novel finished and in the hands of my editor, I have begun the process of digging out. I am attempting to renew my connections to the people I care about, to do the laundry, sort the mail and the many dropped details of life, and to attend to this blog. The neglect has left a field strewn with casualties.

So yesterday, alone and unscheduled for the first time in almost a year, I sat down to re-engage here. In the process I re-read old postings, and began, with some dismay, to discover how heavily the theme of death marches through my thoughts. I suppose that I have played out my grief here more thoroughly than I had been conscious of.

I heard someone say recently that we get sadder as we get older. That is clearly the natural trend of things. We are battered by life, by the struggles and the losses, and as we lose our people we become less sheltered from it all. The multiple losses these past eight years have made me acutely aware of my own mortality, and it looms.

This is the struggle. I look back at my parents’ lives, at the lives of my godmother, my 95 year old aunt–who is still with us and struggling herself to find meaning in her loneliness–and I wish I had known enough to listen more closely to them. I did try. I did my best. I still do. But then we get caught up in our own lives. And that is right, too.

I am sure Fiona Campbell would have a quote from Marcus Aurelius to fit here.

So anyway. Getting older and facing loss requires strength and courage and determination and a whole lot of cussedness. We cannot succumb to despair. We must accept the new landscapes of our lives and get on with it. Not with sadness, but with joy and gratitude and, well, cussedness.

Damned if I won’t be happy today.