November has been a month marked by change for the past seven years. The weather is cooling and the leaves are coloring themselves in beautiful shades of autumn before the winter comes. In 2009, November brought to me the reality that my Poppy would not recover from cancer and it was only a matter of time. On November 18, 2009, my life without a dad began. Each November following has been a month of reflection on his life, my own life, and celebration as I cling to memories that I would give anything to relive.
This month is different because I am soul deep in NaNoWriMo2016’s novel challenge. My current project Poppy Swings is about the love and loss of my dad and the changes it brought about in my own heart in regards to relationships with others and myself.
This November is heavier than others, despite seven years passing. Last November, I was seven months pregnant with my son. This November, I am about to embark on some major life changes (more to come on that soon) and I am four months pregnant with my second child. My husband and I are writing beautiful chapters of our life together. Those chapters are joyful and exciting, but glaringly void of his presence. And it still aches. That ache is the fuel I need to write and finish a novel that is inspired and dedicated to my dad. I don’t think I could have expressed or understood at the age of 23 how much I loved him and needed him. At age 30, I’m starting to realize just how blessed I was.
Poppy Swings has been painful lately, particularly as I try to step into his head because Poppy narrates several chapters in my book. I have laughed through stories and quotes of his that were poignant moments for me told with Texan, good ol’ boy flair. Others have been a bit of an exercise in understanding as I try to voice my dad’s confusion and disappointment over mistakes that I made. Writing is incredibly internal and isolating sometimes. But writers are always seeking a connection to real people and real emotions. This month, I’m looking to connect to my memories and breathe the humor, the strength, and the crass of Don Sedberry into my pages.