Friday, August 05, 2005

Why I took a leave of absence to finish my book

It's been a rough year in my family. In April, my father died suddenly. He had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. A "triple A", they call it. AAA. He was only 66.

As you can imagine, it was a shock to the whole family. Especially my Mom. They'd been married for 40 years, and were best friends.

I wrote something to read at the funeral. Actually managed to read it, too, but it was extremely difficult. My Dad was a great guy, and I couldn't think of a single bad thing to say about him. He was a gentle soul, very open-minded, always there for people. He loved his job (even though he'd been retired for a few years) and loved to travel. He was curious about people and about the world.

It was a shock to me when my Mom made a comment saying that Dad had gone through a period of self-doubt recently, wondering if he'd done enough with his life, achieved enough. My immediate thought was that, sure, Dad wasn't the CEO of a great company, wasn't famous, but he had left a legacy. He'd touched a lot of people in lots of positive ways. But I guess we all have self-doubt, we all wonder if we've achieved enough.

Which brings me back to my leave of absence.

In late May, my Mom had just returned from a few weeks of travel to visit family. She was feeling extremely down, as you would expect. But her grief hit me hard. After blowing up at my husband over something extremely mundane, he banished me to a candle-lit bathtub with orders to read a book.

As I laid there, I thought about my book, and how, at the very least, after all these years of dreaming of being a romance writer and working on my story, I owed it to myself to at least finish the thing. I can control finishing the book. It's a debt of honor to myself.

I hadn't told my husband what I 'd thought about in the bathtub, but shortly thereafter, he proposed that I take the leave of absence to finish the book. I guess it was obvious to both of us that this was something I needed to do.

Fortunately, it was a good time at work to leave. We were between projects, and things were slow. And my bosses were very considerate. One of my bosses is a good friend, and I'm sure it was obvious to him, too, why I needed to do this.

You'd be surprised at how quickly five weeks can pass. I was disappointed that I didn't finish the book during the leave. But I'm so close I can visualize it now.

We had a family wedding last weekend. My husband's sister got married. It was a great time. A celebration of life. I think that if I hadn't been sidelined by the wedding, I would have finished the book last week. I had the momentum going. But I don't mind. Weddings are a great thing. And I love my sister-in-law.

I'll just have to finish it this coming week, instead.

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