Finding Nine by Author SUKI LANG
Suki Lang lives and writes in British Columbia. A story teller by nature she has a strong belief in miracles and a certainty that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way – This writer has no trouble finding happy endings.
This is the story of John, a 16 year old who loses his mother to cancer. During the last year of her life she writes a series of eight letters for her son to read after her death. Designed as a treasure hunt, the letters take John to a place his mother left long ago, where he meets a family he knows little of. The object of the hunt seems to be to find a perfect spot to place his mother’s ashes. But John soon discovers the letters are his mother’s way of helping him move through his grief, and of letting him know she will always be by his side. The journey he takes is about finding hope in the love of two people who welcome him with open arms. And John’s arrival is a gift never expected but long hoped for by two of the people his mother did not forget. Through the natural order of things a son is given the opportunity to fulfill a mother’s last wish and to discover her many secrets yet untold.
TO PURCHASE – FOLLOW LINKS BELOW
The last time I posted here it was as an announcement for a book I wrote called Finding Nine. At the time I told myself and others the book was not about the son I lost. And in fact it was inspired during a road trip with his daughter long before he was even ill. My loyal readers though seemed to know the truth while I continued to find pleasure as I continued to write surrounded by my own denial. The kind of denial that stays with a mother long after her child has died.
This month I’m once again writing in the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count rough draft challenge. As I write it comes to me there is no way for me as a newbie writer to write anything that I do not know. So in goes an overheard conversation, a detail taken out of my own life, a stolen vignette from someone else’s, a piece or many pieces of my son’s story. His life, who he was, who I wanted him to be, the man he became. Little bits and pieces here and there making up for his absence in my real life. In fiction he is always by my side. I write in a character by his name during the rough draft, changed later on. But while I write it is him who comes to life on the page, or parts of him mixed in with someone of my imaginings.
He is beside me. This is what I forgot recently while I sat ensconced in the weight of misery. Putting off writing until I felt lighter and less alone. But he is here, right here with his voice whispering details in my ear. Thank you Jason, Write on!
Well it looks like I fell off the 100 days of Happiness commitment wagon. In fact I have not written about happiness since June 25 or day 25 of my 100 days. How about this, I will pick up where I left off? I’ll start day 26 right here right now. Someone once asked me, “do you want to be a quitter or a failure”. This question was in relation to my desire to pack the BC real estate course in. I’d come to the stage in the course where I had to learn to use a business calculator. Math not ever having been my forte I froze every time I tried to do an assignment. The course was taken via distance and so I’d snail mail my assignments in once a week. And most times I’d get every thing almost right. It was so long ago I can’t recall how many wrong answers you were allowed before they’d make you redo that weeks assignment. During the math section my work was sent back every week. So, as I was saying some smart person posed that question to me. Today I am asking myself that question. Is it important to follow through with a promise immediately or in this case within 100 days. Or is it enough to check in from time to time to say “yup, I had some happy days”. And I did. I did. Today though I feel really happy and that is why I’m writing in my blog. Just to reach out and say it’s ok to find joy in the mundane. I found my happiness today and the last few days, cleaning out my closets, sorting through junk and tossing what I don’t need. Soon all will be in order and I’ll feel even better than I do this day. This day, I feel grateful to recognize joy when I feel it. And I feel go to remember how good it feels to just start again as if there were never a break and also to remember what I said that day so long ago, “I’d rather be a failure than a quitter any day”.
Have you heard of the Happiness challenge, “100 Happy Days”? One of my Facebook friends posts a picture every day, an up lifting, joyful picture often featuring her kids or her kids and small animals. And at first I mistook these renderings as the result of a guide for parents on how to provide good fun for their children during summer. Not so, this is a social media challenge. How great is that, all this time I’ve been seeking the good and watching for ways to be happy, reasons to be happy and some smart guru has coined a phrase “100 Happy Days” and stuck it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social media buttons out there? This is an inspirational idea; who hasn’t been influenced by attitudes such as, anger, discontentment, bitterness? By staying in the moment and being focused I could influence others by finding joy, and happiness, sharing it, expressing it and rubbing it off on to others! Shouting it to the world, “I’M HAPPY”! My picture for this day, flowers from my garden…
“What good shall I do this day” is one of two quotes found in Benjamin Franklins daily journals. His other quote is a follow up, “what good have I done today”. Two questions he asked himself, one first thing in the morning before he began his day and the second, in the evening as he reflected on his day. Yesterday I felt guilty for being too busy, for filling my time up with productivity and not enough quiet reflection. Today, the good I can do is to find pleasure in each task I set out for myself, by being in the moment with each task. “True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” Quote by Antoine de Saint
I dreamt of Jason again. It was the middle of the night, when I woke up his presence was clear to me, as if he were in the room. So clear I knew I’d recall the details of his visit when I woke in the morning , and I have not. Not the details, just the hazy memory that he was here. My favourite dream is Jason coming out of the boreal forest to give me a hug. Remembering the forest and that very special Jason hug has gotten me through many days. Somehow this days painting reminds me of a boreal forest. My session began with ease, emerging to be bright and beautiful, fertile and full of growth while holding tight to hidden secrets. Lush, life sustaining, impenetrable, self sufficient.
And Wow I love this mini masterpiece. I’m drawn to the vibrancy and boldness of colour. Before I began to paint it I listened to restful, new age, meditation music and meditated. My frame of mind went from searching for a way to paint to instinctively knowing the way. I can understand why a routine of daily meditation has been adopted by so many. The music coupled with taking a few minutes to meditate before painting results in a feeling of double joy, double pleasure, double easy feelings while I paint and for the day ahead.
This day is as bad, in terms of lack of inspiration, as yesterday. The lesson here is to preserver, to never give up and something good will come..and in this instance it isn’t todays mini masterpiece. It is the fact that I did it, I followed through. This Nike ad’s message is as inspirational today as it was when I first saw it in the 90’s:
“Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously. You know when you need a break. You know when you need a rest. You know what to get worked up about and what to get rid of. And you know when it’s time to take care of yourself, for yourself. To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete.
Because you know it’s never too late to have a life. And never too late to change one.
JUST DO IT”
Lately I’ve been saying “just do it” to myself a lot, so thanks Nike!
When I wake up each morning my son Jason is on my mind and his message of “I just want you to be happy” is like a mantra in my mind and heart. His message gives me energy to do my best for the day just to honour his wish. The key, for me, to a happy life is living in the moment and as the little Buddha says “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”. This morning with happy anticipation and wanting to use one of my new “Postit” page markers, I chose one with a key. My mini masterpiece on this day has been a pleasure to paint all through the process a sense of calm surrounded me as I was reminded of what the key represents….happiness is the way:))
Several years ago we upgraded to a large and lovely draw leaf refectory table to accommodate a growing family that in the end never used it. The table then represented unfulfilled dreams and I grew to dislike it and the ugly reminders of my loss. Recently I found a small round copper table for sale, it is the duplicate of my mothers kitchen table where wonderful memories were made. I bought it on the spot to replace the large and lovely and ugly table. Now I sit to eat, read, paint, entertain, write my blog, my journal, drink tea and coffee, share a telephone call or stare out the window in wonder at the view and all of this, while making new memories. Totally inspired by my new table and feeling full of painterly confidence I decided, on this day, I could stretch out of my comfort zone. While looking out the window I saw right in front of me, on top of my new dining table, a drooping vase of tulips from my garden. I’d found my subject for the day. Another memory in the making at this new dining spot that has become so much more. The knowledge that I can paint from something real has surprised me! Good surprise though eh?
Today when I settled down to paint I knew exactly what would happen when I began. With the knowledge of my own permission given yesterday I was excited and happy to stick with the old and familiar “field of dreams”. And there was a time when farm life appealed to me and I suppose that is why fields are my go to place. I was given some lovely little page marker post its, with birds or bees, dragons flys, a heart or and a key at one end. Clipping off the featured bird I pressed it into the corner of my mini masterpiece turning it into a piece I feel quite at home with. Adding the branch and fruit was a stretch for me but it seems to have worked too. My session with the cards this day was a free flow of pleasure. And as I had imagined, a perfect meditation. All my worries fell away and allowed me to be in the moment, for the moment. All the while I felt the glow of Jason’s presence and my own peacefulness.
Happy Mother’s Day to you. This was another first for me – being without a child of my own to get a hug from. (Sadly not even our grand girls called or came by…. a topic for another blog perhaps). The week leading up to Mother’s Day was actually fine. I knew what to expect but when the day was here it was like being in a rudderless boat.
Now I should say here, Jason was not the most reliable when it came to pinning him down for a visit on Mother’s Day. He always called though, and came along sometime during the day. In his youth he brought along a bouquet of flowers, picked en-route, regaling me with a verbal picture of the amazing garden he had swiped them from. Pleased to see him and to get the flowers we would talk gardens and I would provide food, I loved to watch him eat!
When he had children of his own it would be an early morning stop for pancakes allowing the girls mother to sleep in. Last year he came all on his own, I’m not sure if it was exactly on Mother’s Day but it was our Mother’s Day visit; by then he was sick and on chemo too. He drove us to the beach for a walk and talk, this was one of the last times he drove me in his truck, he was wearing an orange T shirt.
Going through photos today, trying for a semblance of organization either chronologically or by category such as pictures with us, pictures with his children, or with his cousins or friends or with his dogs…When Jason was first diagnosed he spent three weeks in hospital. Most days the kids would come for a visit after school and I’d be there either to stay over night or for all or part of the day. On occasion his best pal Mac the yellow lab would make an appearance. The day Mac came and sat so calmly for this picture Jason could not wait to see him. All day he had it in his mind that soon Mac would be visiting.
Jason used to say there are two types of people, those who really like dogs and those who don’t like them so much. Jason and I are both in the first group. When he met his wife he already had a dog, a pit bull named Kato. She was gentler than her breed is known to be and I credit Jason for that. Mac is just a big softy by nature. Jason was born in 1970 which on the Chinese calendar is the year of the dog. He grew up to be loyal, loving, faithful with a kind and open heart…just like a dog.
I wish we had been aware Jason had such a short time and then our time might have been used in a different ways. Instead of planning for the future and looking ahead we could have looked to today. It wasn’t until his last three weeks that the good of each day was recognized in the moment. And I know how lucky I am to have had any moments at all. Which reminds me of an old Sanskrit message:
Yesterday is but a dream
Tomorrow is but a vision and
Today well lived Makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness
and Every tomorrow a vision of Hope
Look well therefore to this day!
This past weekend was spent travelling to a memorial tea for a friends mother, Rose. Each time word of a death reaches my ear I am griped in an almost physical hold so tight I can hardly get a clear breath. No matter the age or circumstances my heart breaks for those left behind.
While Jason was ill he asked me not to weep, saying it (his illness) was about him, not me. He asked me to keep a clear head so I could be cheerful and offer support and speak of him as a man who would live forever. And I did and in my heart he will be with me forever. Well now his departure from my life is definitely all about me.
Each of us who grieve for him hold our grief as separate and personal to us alone. We are in one big house called grief; separated by the walls of the rooms we are in. We hear each other grieve and the walls we have erected prevent reaching out enough to touch or lend comfort to one another. Our pain is our own and moving beyond it to find joy, that is the challenge. Doing all the things that once brought smiles and quilt free pleasure. Taking a step, moving in a forward motion, making a start and Getting past go…