Six Words

This week marks the one-year anniversary that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Covid 19 was a pandemic. This same time last year we were worried about our oldest child, Alena. She was sick for over a week. We struggled to get her Covid tested.

I called my niece Tara, who was still in California. She, her husband, son, and newborn daughter were going into lock-down in San Francisco. A few days after that, we got the phone call, our brother-in-law Anthony, died of a heart attack at age 59.

This year has been marred with ups and downs, good mixed with bad. I released a young adult novel, The Checkers Club, using the book called 90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book.  I have a very linear thinking brain. I do things in order, so this book helped set up an outline, helped develop characters, and work through dialog.

In December, we got the phone call that my mom’s best friend, Emma was killed while walking her dog, just two weeks shy of her 78th birthday. A few days after that, we got the call that our nephew Jeremy Daniel (J.D.) took his own life. He was my parent’s second born grandchild. My sister Roxanne’s first-born son.

We were not close to J.D., but I do remember the few times we gathered. My sister stayed with us when she was pregnant. My sister, Diana, was junior in high school and a new driver. She was the one who she took Roxanne to Ft. Carson Army Hospital when she went into labor.

When J.D. was six, and his brother Scotty, was five, he was so excited to have me read to him Charlotte’s Web. The last time we saw J.D. was for our sister-in-law Susan’s funeral, back in 2004. I was amazed at how handsome he was.

The past three years, I have been dabbling in writing and trying to get better daily. Lately, I have been thinking about the late writer Ernest Hemingway. Before he died, he was in a bar in Florida and was given a challenge, write a story in six words or less. He wrote on a napkin, “For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” Why were the shoes not worn? Did the baby die? Did the baby outgrow them before even getting a chance to wear them out? Others in the bar wrote their own six-word stories. A man wrote, “Ring for sale. Never worn.” A woman wrote, “I should have never said yes.” Yes to what? Who knows? I have my own six words for J.D. “Wanted to be a better Aunt.”

What six words, if you can sum up in such a short story, would be your epitaph? Could have been a better friend? Wanted to spend more time relaxing? Wish I could have stopped hating. The challenge after marking such a bizarre and tumultuous year, is to allow others to write six nice words about us when we leave this world. Or, maybe we can change the trajectory we are on now as to not to have to wonder what things we left undone or unsaid.