2014 opened with the flu for me. I got knocked out on New Year’s Eve, and welcomed the new year with runny sinuses, aches and pains, despite the fact that I had a flu shot. As luck would have it, I recovered just in time to return to the work from my first two week Christmas break since I graduated college. It was a bummer to spend half of my break sick, but being homebound gave me an opportunity to get back into my writing, so I started work on another novel, Obsidian, which is the sequel to Move. Fortunately, all of the staff vacancies that drove me borderline batty in 2013 were filled and everybody was trained and up to speed, so I entered the new year with a major burden off my shoulders. We also got a new pastor at church, and it was exciting to welcome him and his family after a year and a half search for new leadership. And so the tone was set for a year that felt more like a yo-yo than any other I’ve had in my life.
You may recall in last year’s letter that our parakeet, Oliver, was sick. He was immobile with leg problems, presumably from a kidney infection that caused nerve inflammation in his legs. Unfortunately, he didn’t improve, and we were surprised to find that he had been misdiagnosed and actually had a spinal tumor. We had him put to sleep on February 27. It even surprised the vet. He just couldn’t believe that a three and a half year old parakeet could have cancer. But it is what it is, and there was nothing that could be done for poor little Ollie. An earlier diagnosis wouldn’t have helped since it was on his spine, so there was never anything that could have been done to help. It was a heartbreaking loss, because Ollie was the first pet I had put to sleep. Plus, he was a rescue, so it really stung. We took him in wanting to give him a long, happy life. We had three and a half years. We’ve had to accept that it’s one of those things that we’ll never understand. We still miss him, of course, but are getting along with Zack and Chloe. The two of them were naturally puzzled, but I think they adjusted to the loss better (and definitely faster) than Rick and I did. They’re fine, by the way, and have been a tremendous comfort to us, as they always are.
Of course, this journey didn’t happen in a vacuum. The day after Ollie died, Dad retired. I hated to drop the news of Ollie’s passing on him when he hit such a major milestone, but such is life. He and Mom have really enjoyed retirement and being home together. They’ve been to the beach several times and even took a trip to Cape Cod in October. He still does an occasional job with the company, but he has sold out his shares in the company and does the work as it’s convenient for him.
While we were dealing with Ollie’s illness, I got an invitation to contribute to a paranormal young adult anthology titled Night Life. I decided to rewrite a story that I did several years ago titled Nonstop to Nowhere that was never picked up for publication but was perfectly suited for this project. It was more work than I anticipated, but well worth it, and I’m happy with how it turned out. My writing was keeping me busy between Obsidian and Nonstop and my book sales picked up in the first and second quarter of the year, so I was glad to see my writing continuing to build.
But that’s only a third of the journey. Stay tuned for what came next as winter turned to spring.